New Zealand Māori Rugby League Chairman John Devonshire says it’s exciting times ahead for the sport as a record eight Māori teams will take to the field in a series of international games.
The eight teams represent the national tama and kōtiro Māori rugby league divisions as well as resident Māori men, who will come up against teams representing the Pacific and England community.
“The opportunity to play at an international level is the pinnacle for all our players who consider it an honour and a privilege to represent New Zealand Māori,” says Devonshire.
“To wear our jersey, our tohu, is a proud moment for our whānau throughout the motu.
“It is one thing to represent your country but another to represent your people. It’s who we are as Māori.”
He says the NZMRL is committed to creating opportunities to further grow and develop Māori rugby league. “We’ve established meaningful pathways for our players to develop from junior through to senior level and these international games are our next step to take our game even further.”
The tama and kōtiro teams will be announced in the coming weeks with the NZ Māori Residents Men team being announced on Saturday, 31 August.
The upcoming international games will take place as follows:
13s Tama | Pasifika Cup, Auckland (5 & 6 October)
14s Tama | Pasifika Cup, Auckland (5 & 6 October)
14s Kōtiro | Pasifika Cup, Auckland (5 & 6 October)
15s Tama vs Tonga | Auckland (2 November)
17s Tama vs Tonga | Auckland (2 November)
15s Kōtiro vs Tonga | Hamilton (26 October)
17s Kōtiro vs Tonga | Hamilton (26 October)
NZ Māori Residents Men vs England Community XIII | Rotorua (27 October)
Supporting the eight teams will be a dedicated group of coaching staff, managers, trainers and referees.
Our tama and kōtiro coaching staff are as follows:
13s Tama Coach | Wayne Capper (Taranaki)
14s Tama Coach | Mike Munday (Nga Taonga o Tamaki)
14s Kōtiro Coach | Josh Cowan (Waikato Maori)
15s Kotiro Coach | Tom Pickering (Te Mahurehure Storm)
15s Tama Coach | Ruka Loza (Counties Manukau Maori)
17s Kōtiro Coach | Mike Wilson (Waikato Maori)
17s Tama Coach | Tukua Mathews (Waikato Maori)
Our NZ Māori Rugby League Residents management team are as follows:
NZMRL Liaison | Wayne Capper (Taranaki)
Coach | Shaun Clark (Ngati Umutahi)
Assistant Coach | Harley Raihe (NZMRL)
Manager | Aaron Albert (Kotahitanga)
Trainer | Hamana Amoamoa (Upper Central Zone)
H2O Technician | Jaye Pukepuke (Canterbury Maori)
Keep an eye out on the NZMRL website, nzmrl.co.nz for updates.