The first ever New Zealand Māori Inline Hockey team will have a chance this week to showcase themselves against a New Zealand All Stars team in Hamilton.
The 2015 New Zealand National Club Championships is underway at the Hamilton Inline Hockey Club which also marks the 20th anniversary of the competition.
To highlight this milestone, New Zealand Inline Hockey representative Lewis Taiapa proposed to establish a Māori side to match against a New Zealand All Star side, he says, “We have been wanting to do this for a long time and with the 20th anniversary it will be a really good opportunity to pitch it to the NZ Inline Hockey Association.”
The side is made up of the top Māori players from all around the county. “Preparation has been really good, we haven’t had much time together as a team but we have been keeping in contact, keeping our communications going with all the guys in the team from all over the country, and everybody is doing their part to get their skills up, to get their fitness up,” says Taiapa.
The Māori jerseys will also have a special meaning, with Horace Taiapa a relative of master carver Pine Taiapa designing them.
“Every player has their own iwi affiliation, so for myself I will have Ngāti Porou and the meaning of that is just to pay tribute to our tipuna, and maintain that spiritual connection through this journey,” says Taiapa.
The team will come together on Wednesday with the match kicking off at 1:30pm Wednesday at the HIHC venue, Hamilton.