Story: Māori rugby – whutupaoro

Page 8. Rugby sevens and touch rugby

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The first national sevens tournament was held in 1975 in Auckland, with Marlborough winning. The following year the Hong Kong Sevens Tournament was launched, popularising the sport in Asia and to a worldwide audience. With the advent of other sevens competitions, including in Wellington and Dubai, the International Rugby Board launched a World Sevens Series of 10 tournaments played across the globe.

New Zealand Sevens

In 2018, New Zealand had won 12 series titles since the tournament began in 1999/2000. The New Zealand Sevens squad also won gold medals at the Kuala Lumpur (1998), Manchester (2002), Melbourne (2006), Delhi (2010) and Gold Coast (2018) Commonwealth Games, and silver at Glasgow (2014). Māori players who have featured prominently in sevens teams include All Blacks Zinzan Brooke, Eric Rush and Dallas Seymour. In 2005 a Northland Māori team took part in the Air Pacific International Pacific Sevens tournament.

Aotearoa Māori Women's Sevens

The Aotearoa Māori Women's Sevens team won six Hong Kong Sevens Championships from 2002 to 2007 and three Rome Sevens Championships from 2010 to 2012. Due to their international success, Māori Party co-leader Tariana Turia suggested that they should be renamed the Māori Women's All Blacks.


Touch rugby is the main sport participated in by Māori. It is the top game played by Māori men, with one in three playing it, and the second-most commonly played sport for Māori women, after netball. The National Māori Touch Trust, formed in 1998 by Gerard Ngawati, hosts an annual Māori tournament at Hopuhopu, Ngāruawāhia. The trust has also organised a World Indigenous Touch tournament, first held in 2008. Māori Touch NZ hosted the tournament at Parrs Park in Waitākere City, attracting Samoan, Niuean, Cook Island, New Zealand Chinese, Pacific Unity and Japanese teams.

How to cite this page:

Malcolm Mulholland, 'Māori rugby – whutupaoro - Rugby sevens and touch rugby', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 22 June 2024)

Story by Malcolm Mulholland, published 5 Sep 2013, updated 1 Jan 2015