Te Arawa has welcomed the Māori All Blacks into Rotorua, as they prepare to face the British & Irish Lions this weekend. The team vow to also honour the late Mita Hikairo Mohi, the inspiration behind their latest jersey design.
It was a powerful welcome out on the court yard of Ohinemutu that the late Mita Hikairo Mohi would have been proud of.
“This is an acknowledgment to the elder, to Mita for his work in the Māori world,” says Māori All Black hooker Hikawera Elliot.
Otere Black (Ngāi Tūhoe, Te Whānau a Apanui, Ngāti Tūwharwetoa) says, “Rotorua is the home of Māori, so the boys and I are happy to be here today to be carried on by the decendants of Te Arawa.”
Minister of Māori Development Te Ururoa, who is his relative from Ngāti Rangiwewehi, remembers Mohi as a compassionate leader.
“He was a big in Rugby League and Rugby Union. However, we are celebrating his aspects that he brought. He was easy, calm, and happy,” says Flavell.
Elliot (Ngāti Awa) is expected to lead the haka this weekend. The Counties-Manukau hooker was also a student to Mohi, and he has seen the many changes in the team.
“Me personally, I believe the game is faster and the players are bigger,” says Elliot.
It is a homecoming of sorts for veteran and former Rotorua Boys High School player Liam Messam, who last turned out for the Māori All Blacks in 2010.
Black says, “Put it this way, the big thing for me is that he is a leader in this team. We shall follow what he is doing. With that, he has played at the top level for a while.”
The Māori All Blacks now have to find a way to stop the Lions whose tour is back on track after their win against the Crusaders.
PHOTO: Adidas, Māori All Blacks Jersey