A special edition Māori All Blacks jersey has been unveiled today as the men in black prepare for battle against the British & Irish Lions during the DHL New Zealand Lions Series in Rotorua on Saturday 17 June.
The Maori All Blacks scored an historic victory over the British & Irish Lions the last time they met in 2005, and the Rotorua re-match promises to be one of the highlights of the upcoming Series.
Designed by New Zealand Rugby Kaumātua Luke Crawford, and renowned Māori artist Dave Burke, the jersey pays the ultimate homage to well-respected leader of the Te Arawa people, Mita Hikairo Mohi.
Both Crawford and Burke are former students of Mohi’s, and have taken great care in placing each element of the design on the jersey, honouring the thousands of young men who have also had Mohi’s knowledge and stories handed down to them at Wananga schools of learning on Lake Rotorua’s Mokoia Island.
Every element of the design has been carefully thought through, both in its spiritual meaning, relevance and placement on the jersey, says Burke. “When the Māori All Blacks take to the field, they are warriors. The warrior stance on the front of the jersey reflects this and serves two purposes.
“Firstly, it is an intimidating tribute to New Zealand’s history and one of the most prominent elements for opponents when seeing the jersey for the first time, and secondly, it connects the wearer to the spiritual realm, reminding them that they are not walking alone.”
Crawford explains the four-eyed head of the taiaha on the back of the jersey, “With four eyes looking in all directions, the taiaha offers spiritual protection to the players, providing a watchful eye over the wearer at all times.
“The intricately patterned arms represent whakapapa and connectedness to each player’s whānau and iwi. We have a responsibility to our family, our people and to New Zealand every time we take to the field, and we will wear this jersey with pride and strength in our hearts, knowing that we are representing them every time we do so.”
The elaborately decorated handles of the spear-shaped fighting clubs on both sides of the jersey pay tribute to Mita Mohi’s dedication to the traditional Māori fighting art of mau taiaha.
Simon Cartwright, Senior Director at Adidas Rugby, says: “Dave Burke and Luke Crawford’s design embodies the power, direction and determination of the Māori All Blacks. It is with a shared heart, history and, ultimately, pride that they’ll wear this jersey to take on and win against the Lions.”
Fans can show the Māori All Blacks their support by purchasing the replica special edition jersey at all Adidas stores, major sporting goods retailers, rugby retailers throughout the world, and online at www.adidas.com.