Whangarei – New Zealand’s best Māori cricketers will assemble for the inaugural national Māori men’s tournament in Whangārei over Easter.
The first of its kind in cricket, the tournament will see five regional teams competing in a series of Twenty20 matches at Cobham Oval and Kensington Park.
The competing teams will be Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland), Northern Māori (Northern Districts), Central Māori (Central Districts), Te Whanganui-a-tara (Wellington), and Te Waipounamu (South Island).
For some of the teams, the tournament will mark the first occasion their region has selected a Māori representative side.
Alistair Alcock (Rongomaiwahine), a former Central Districts representative and Te Whanganui-a-tara coach, said it was a great opportunity for Māori players.
“The kaupapa for this tournament is bigger than any individual or team. It’s a chance to establish Māori cricket as part of the cricket landscape and provide opportunities for Māori players to connect with players from other rohe,” Alcock says.
“It’s also a great chance to pit one’s cricket skills against the top Māori players from other associations and Iwi.”
Northern Māori representative, Mikaere Leef (Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāti Pūkenga), said the concept was a brilliant initiative.
“I’m looking forward to being around the Northern Māori guys and also other Māori cricketers from throughout the country,” he says.
“Growing up I never imagined a national tournament would happen, so it’s pretty cool for young Māori cricketers to be able to see this tournament and aspire to play in it one day.
“It will be great to get Māori cricket in the public eye, and get people excited about Māori cricket and the benefits it can bring to New Zealand Cricket as a whole.”
Teams will stay at Terenga Paraoa Marae and Pehiāweri Marae during the tournament, which will be officially opened with a pōwhiri on April 7 at Cobham Oval.
The tournament will begin that day with Northern Māori playing Tāmaki Makaurau Māori and Central Māori playing Te Whanganui-a-Tara.
This will be followed by two Twenty20 matches per day on April 8 and 9. The tournament will be live scored on PlayHQ – to view the tournament draw, click here.
A Māori national women’s tournament is planned to be held later this year in October, details to be communicated in due course.
Some Māori players to represent the Black Caps include Doug Bracewell, Jesse Ryder, Kyle Mills, Daryl Tuffey, Craig McMillan, Heath Davis, Adam Parore, Anaru Kitchen, Suzie Bates, Sara McGlashan and Lea Tahuhu and England captain Ben Stokes, who has Māori heritage on his mother’s side.
Photo: Mikaere Leef