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Maori Party Angered by loss of NZ Maori

Going, Going…Gone – Maori Party Angered by loss of NZ Maori
Friday 19 December 2008
Te Ururoa Flavell, Sports and Recreation Spokesperson

The decision by the NZ Rugby Union to cast aside the NZ Maori team in their effort to cut costs, has been greeted with dismay by Maori Party sports and recreation spokesperson, Te Ururoa Flavell.

“Sid Going, George Nepia, Tane Norton, Piri Weepu, Hosea Gear – the list is endless of our great rugby players who had their foundations in playing for the Maori side” said Mr Flavell. “Between 30 and 35% of the professional rugby players in New Zealand are Maori – and the NZ Maori side has nurtured many of the greatest”.

“The decision to scrap NZ Maori in favour of the Junior Allblacks demonstrates the priority that NZ Rugby Union gives to supporting our finest Maori rugby players”said Mr Flavell.

“If anything, the reputation for Maori rugby has been growing in leaps and bounds” said Mr Flavell. “Two months ago, teams from Te Arawa, Ngati Haua, Te Puaha o Waikato, Ngati Ngaho, Raukawa and Nga Iwi o Manukau gathered at Ngaruawahia for the inaugural iwi-based rugby tournament ”.

“And in July it was NZ Maori that took out the inaugural Pacific Nation Cup rugby title in Sydney in a dramatic match against Australia A at Aussie Stadium”.

“These victories this year are nothing unusual for NZ Maori” said Flavell. “Between 1994 and 2007 NZ Maori won 31 out of the 35 internationals they played, including the never-to-be-forgotten win against the British and Irish Lions in Waikato, just three years ago”.

“This year we celebrated 120 years since the New Zealand Natives toured Britain, Australia and Aotearoa, in a record 107 matches” said Flavell. “In fact many historians attribute their phenomenal success as the foundation for the All Blacks who were established a decade later, in 1903”.

“The decision to sacrifice NZ Maori is absolutely bizarre in the light of the outstanding successes of the team, the great popularity amongst fans, and its historic place in New Zealand sport. Perhaps not so surprising however, when one considers the lack of support they have given the Aotearoa Maori Women’s team, who has won every tournament they have entered including the Hong Kong international sevens, six years in a row”.

"It is a sad day for Maori rugby - and our concern is obviously for generations of young Maori rugby players to come - it just doesn't make sense".

“For Steve Tew to say that NZRFU support of provincial rugby is support of Maori rugby is a weak and pathetic attempt at RNZFU spin” said Flavell.

“We should be so proud of the strength of NZ Maori – not seek to dismantle it” said Flavell. “If the NZ Rugby Union can’t protect the unique ethos and brand of Maori rugby, perhaps it is time for iwi to consider who should”.


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