Story: Māori and sport – hākinakina

Page 3. Māori and sport from the late 20th century

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The tradition of successful Māori golfers continued into the 21st century. In 1992 a New Zealand team that included two Māori golfers, Phil Tataurangi and Michael Campbell, won the Eisenhower trophy, the international men’s amateur team golf championship. Individually, Tataurangi came first and Campbell second. In 2005 Campbell won the US Open. Campbell and Tataurangi were also individual winners of the Māori golfing tournament.

Frances Taumata (née Pere) (Te Aitanga-a-Māhaki and Rongomaiwahine) was the New Zealand Māori Golf Ladies’ Champion in 1970 and a New Zealand representative. In 2012, Kate Chadwick won the women’s section of the New Zealand Māori Golf Championship. Leanne Baker, one of leading contemporary Māori players, was also one of the top New Zealand players in the 2000s.


Though Māori had some early success in cricket, it was not until 1990 that a Māori player, Adam Parore (Ngāpuhi) would represent New Zealand in a test match. A number of players with Māori ancestry have now played for New Zealand. Well-known bowlers of modern times are Darryl Tuffey (Te Ātiawa) and Shane Bond (Ngāi Tahu). In 2001 a New Zealand Māori team played in the 2001 Pacific Cup against other Pacific nations and won. The team included Peter McGlashan (Ngāti Porou) and 16-year-old Jesse Ryder.

Maia Lewis was a captain of the White Ferns women’s cricket team in the 1990s and 2000s, playing in both one-day internationals and tests.


In 2006 the Aotearoa Māori Tennis Association celebrated the 80th anniversary of its competition. Tamati Reedy, academic and former senior public servant, was kaumātua of the association. Notable Māori tennis players have included Ruia Morrison (Te Arawa and Ngāti Tūwharetoa) who played in the 1950s and 1960s. She is considered one of New Zealand’s greatest players. Kelly Evernden (Ngāti Porou) was a professional player in the 1980s and 1990s and played at Wimbledon, the Olympics and the Australian Open. From the mid-1990s women players Rewa Harriman (née Hudson) (Te Whakatōhea), Leanne Baker (Tainui) and Shelley Stephens (Ngāpuhi) were winners of the New Zealand women’s tennis title. In 2007 Mose Harvey (Ngāti Porou) won the ITF (International Tennis Federation) World Super Seniors Men’s 70s singles title. In 2013 winners of the Aotearoa Māori Tennis Association championship singles were Paige Hourigan (Ngāti Tūwharetoa) for the women’s title and Kyle Butters (Te Arawa and Ngāti Tūwharetoa) for the men’s title.


From the late 1950s Māori were heavily involved in netball, which was known as women’s basketball until 1970. Even earlier, Margaret Matangi (Te Atiawa, Taranaki and Ngāti Mutunga) was the first national captain in 1938. Players such as Mirth Te Moananui (Tainui) and Rebecca Faulkner were New Zealand representatives and have been inducted into the Māori Sports Hall of Fame. In 2012 former player Waimarama Taumaunu coached the Silver Ferns, and the team included Māori players Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit and Jody Brown (nee Te Huna). The Aotearoa Māori Netball Tournament celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2012.


The best-known Māori football player of the late 20th century was Wynton Rufer (Ngāti Porou) who was named Oceania player of the century by the Oceania Confederation. He played professional football in Europe and played for the All Whites (the national men’s football team) in the FIFA World Cup in 1982.

In the 1990s Heremaia (Harry) Ngata played for the All Whites. At the 2010 FIFA World Cup there were a number of players with Māori heritage in the All Whites: Leo Bertos, Rory Fallon, Jeremy Christie and Winston Wiremu Reid.

The 2012 Football Ferns (national women’s football team), who competed at the Olympic Games, included five players with Māori heritage: Amber Hearn (Ngāpuhi), Kristy Hill (Te Arawa), Rebecca Smith (Ngāi Tahu), Abby Erceg (Ngāpuhi) and Rebecca Rolls (Ngāti Porou).


Pero Cameron (Ngāti Hine) and his sister Jody Cameron played in the Tall Blacks (men’s basketball team) and the Tall Ferns (women’s basketball team) respectively. Pero captained the Tall Blacks to fourth place in the 2002 world championships and was the only non-NBA (US National Basketball Association) player to make the all-stars team at the tournament. Some of Pero’s other siblings have represented New Zealand at a junior level.

Other well-known Māori basketball players include Paul Henare (Ngāti Kahungunu) and Paora Winitana (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Kahungunu). Paora Winitana is also a bishop in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon church). The church has an important influence on basketball and Māori. Church College in Hamilton was a Mormon school that fostered basketball talent and had significant Māori attendance. In 2011 a New Zealand Māori team competed at the Aotearoa Asia Pacific Men’s Basketball tournament, and in 2013 a Māori team competed in the Native American Basketball Invitational tournament.


There has long been strong Māori involvement in softball. In 2013 Māori players in the Black Sox (national men’s softball team) included Ben Enoka (Ngāpuhi), Brad Rona (Te Ātiawa), Tyson Byrne (Ngāti Porou), Jarrad Martin (Te Ātiawa) and Nathan Nukunuku (Ngāti Porou).


The Nga Hau e Wha Māori squash tournament has been running since the 1980s. It was first hosted by Tainui in Te Awamutu in 1981. Well-known Māori squash players include Leilani Rorani (née Joyce), who is a former world number one and winner of the British Open in 1999 and 2000, and Shelley Kitchen, who won a silver in the doubles and bronze in the singles at the 2006 Commonwealth Games.


The strong representation of Māori in the All Blacks continued into the 2000s. In 2010 the Māori All Blacks celebrated their centenary. Prominent Māori players at the 2011 Rugby World Cup included Piri Weepu and Hosea Gear. The highly successful Black Ferns (national women’s rugby team) have had a high proportion of Māori players, and were captained to their first three world cup victories by Farah Palmer (Tainui and Ngāti Maniapoto).

The Aotearoa Women’s Rugby Sevens Team – a Māori women’s team – was so successful it won the international women’s sevens title in 2013.

In 2010 a Māori team competed in the World Indigenous Touch tournament.

Rugby league

Benji Marshall was an iconic Māori player in the 2000s and a significant number of Māori were in the Kiwi (national rugby league) team. In 2005 Women’s Rugby League World Cup the New Zealand Māori women’s team knocked out the Australian team, which meant an all-New Zealand final, with New Zealand Māori playing the Kiwi Ferns.

How to cite this page:

Basil Keane, 'Māori and sport – hākinakina - Māori and sport from the late 20th century', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 18 June 2024)

Story by Basil Keane, published 5 Sep 2013