Australian-Māori teams use Tag Nationals to connect home

By Raniera Harrison
  • Auckland

An Australian tag football team has made their way in to the New Zealand Tag Football Federation Nationals this year. It's been a huge journey for the side, full of Māori players who have made the journey home.

Day two of the New Zealand Tag Football Nationals, and amongst the many teams competing today, we found a Māori team from Australia.

“When I come home it's about fixing my heart and fixing my spirit with the mana I go away with man I'm so proud,” says competitor Crystal Marino from Taranaki.

The Brisbane Huskies have definitely turned up in Māori fashion to the NZ Tag Football Nationals this year. It's an opportunity for the Māori players in the side to show off some of the greatest pearls of home to their trans-Tasman compatriots.

 “They get to see the New Zealand culture a bit aye. Especially the people here and the way things are done here it’s a lot different to how they do it in Australia,” says Dale Crawford from Ngāti Porou and Samoa.

They aren't all Māori, the same however, can't be said for their style of play.

“It is not slim pickings over there, there is as much of a player pool,” says Crawford.

It's estimated that there is in excess of 500 players at the event, playing across 18 categories. The majority of the players, however, are Māori.

Richie McKenzie from Horowhenua couldn’t agree more, “Yeah, yeah the majority are Māori. I think we got one Samoan. I'm about the fairest you'll get. All Ngāti Toa.”

Keeping in touch with the teachings of their homeland.

“Trying to keep the team as a family, both teams all as one big family and just coming over here and enjoying ourselves,” says Crawford.

“They've fallen in love with us, and they've fallen in love with our country, and so for us it was about togetherness, kaupapa,” says Marino.

And by the looks of it, their coming home was a bit more than usual.

Marino says, “It’s about making these Aussies realise that we are all much deeper then what they perceive us to be in Australia.”

The finals of the competition will be held tomorrow at West Auckland's Trusts Stadium.

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