Topic: Rugby

Cultural Identity behind Māori All Blacks style of play - Dr Farah Palmer

By Eru Paranihi
  • North Island: West Coast
  • North Island: East Coast

A new study conducted by former Black Ferns captain Dr Farah Palmer has found cultural identity is responsible for changing the way teams play. The research was conducted on players chosen from both the Māori All Blacks, and the Japanese rugby teams.

Getting the best out of individuals and teams according to this Senior Lecture lies in the culture.

Palmer, who is a Senior lecturer at Massey University says, “It is important to try and understand the underlying motivation the team may have, and how the culture from which those players come from might have an impact on their motivation.”

In 2014, Palmer - alongside colleague Dr Yusuke Kuroda - conducted the research while the Māori All Blacks were on tour in Japan. She noted a more relaxed approach from the Māori side.

“Their trainings were more playful, and there was a lot of laughter going on, and on the field, they were more likely to take more risks. I think we refer to that as the X-factor, or flare that Māori have when they play sport.”

In stark contrast, the Japanese were more serious, and focused which is perhaps a reflection of former coach Eddie Jones who famously led them to a victory over giants South Africa.

“I tell you, it was pretty scary going in there with Eddie [Jones] in there, and it was quite an intimidating [and] stern environment to in. You kind of got to put things into perspective, the team had lost to the Māori in the first test.”

For Palmer, there are still more areas within the Māori world that needs to be reconnoitred. Palmer (Ngāti Maniapoto, Waikato) will work alongside PHD candidates to conduct further research.

“What I'm keen to do is carrying on exploring the impact that being in teams like the Māori All Blacks, or Kapa Haka, and how that impacts on Māori.”

While it may not be a winning formula, Dr Palmer's research has confirmed what many New Zealanders have known about the Māori All Blacks.