NZ Rugby embrace tikanga Māori for Lions Tour

Today, NZ Rugby made a commitment to increase support for things Māori. Seven taiaha (traditional weapons) were gifted today to the public to mark one year from the beginning of the British and Irish Lions tour.

Beez Ngārino Te Wāti from Hawaiki Tū Haka Theatre says, “Only now has thought been given to the battlefields where the All Blacks and regional sides of NZ play.”

Mayors from five cities around the country converged on Eden Park today to receive the taiaha.

It's an initiative by NZ Rugby to promote next year's British and Irish Lions tour, but more importantly, the Māori culture.

NZRU Māori Rugby Development Manager Tiki Edwards told Te Kāea, “For our Māori, very much understanding that culture plays a huge part we got the Lions tour coming up next year so this is just a first step into having Māori tied through the whole kaupapa.”

A total of seven taiaha were presented today representing each franchise. Māori creative entity Hawaiki Tū was tasked with presenting the weapons.

Te Wāti explained the affiliations of each taiaha, “The Hurricanes, NZ Provincial Barbarians, Highlanders, Māori All Blacks, Crusaders, Highlanders and the Chiefs. These are the teams taking on the visiting British and Irish Lions.”

The taiaha will return to their respective regions where they will be cared for exclusively until the beginning of the tour.

“We are absolutely thrilled and we are the first city to have the games so that's a really special honour in itself,” says Sheryl Mai, the Whāngarei representative.

“Well I think we've been laid a challenge, for all of the cities in New Zealand to step up,” says Celia Wade-Brown, the Wellington representative.

“We haven't got all the processes right year mate. There're a few things that we can tidy up on but it's a big step today,” says Edwards.

The 12th British and Irish Lions tour will kick off on this day next year.