The Aotearoa Māori Netball tournament returns to Auckland after 10 years when it was last hosted in Papakura. The tournament has produced many Māori Silver Ferns since it was first held 30 years ago in the Bay of Plenty.
With so many great Māori teams expected to turn up to Manurewa this weekend, however, Kahurangi June Mariu isn't playing favourites.
“Well first off, you must quote me as saying the whole lot. To be quite honest, the teams that are in the city playing in the weekend must have it,” says Mariu.
Northern Starts shooter Maia Wilson, Southern Steel sisters Te Huinga Reo and Te Paea Selby-Rickit, and many other ANZ Premiership stars have played in past tournaments. Mariu would one day love to see them return again after they have retired.
Despite not featuring on the international stage, Mariu has high hopes for the Māori Netball team to be playing regular matches against opposition from overseas.
“What I'm aiming for, and I hope it happens before I die, is that we get a team in the Worlds. We should have, there are some very good players.”
The tournament is fortunate to receive funding from the Government, but there is still plenty of more money that they could do with.
“We are really grateful to the Health Department and now Te Ururoa. I was thinking god how are we going to carry this on.”
With less than two days to go, many of the teams will be out to claim the title from last year's champions Ikaroa ki te Raki.