Topic: Rugby League World Cup

Kilted Māori keen to turn out for Scotland

By Eru Paranihi
  • South Island

Three Māori players will turn out for Scotland this weekend when they take on the Kiwis at Christchurch Stadium.

Thanks to their grandparents, James Bell and brothers Andrew and Kane Bentley all qualify for the kilted warriors.

Although they may have traded the korowai for the kilt, Scotland to these boys is like a second whānau.

Scottish number 13 James Bell (Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Tainui) believes there are similarities with his adopted nation and the Māori culture.

"We have tribes, they have clans, we have piupiu, they have kilts, they have a lochness monster, we have the taniwhā," says Bell.  

Anyone could be forgiven for thinking these boys aren't Scottish. Their Scottish ancestry is just as strong as their Māori genealogy.

Andrew Bentley, who also plays alongside younger brother Kane, and both identify as Ngāti Kuri says, "A lot of people don't know that we have Scottish blood. Our grandfather's Scottish, so mother's half Māori and half Scottish."

The boys were also cultural advisors to their teammates when they visited Rehua Marae. It was also the first time that many of the team had tasted a hāngi.

Says Bell, "All the Scottish boys are all cracking up about the hongi and all that, all the haka. It's just funny seeing their reaction because it's all just normal to me."

"Some of the boys tasted raw fish for the first time. So I think the boys had a great experience," says Andrew Bentley.

After performing Flower of Scotland, their first task as kilted Māori will be to face the haka of the Kiwis.

Bell says, "It's definitely going to be a different experience brother, I'll stand there proud with my brothers on the blue and white side."

"Lot of chills, lot of mana inside us. That's it basically. We feel like doing one back, but we can't," says Kane Bentley  

Whether it's a blue jersey or a black jersey, these boys are Māori first. However, for 80 minutes on Saturday, they are the enemy.