Rangatahi Cricket Festival nurturing next generation of Māori cricketers

The cricket season is in full swing in Aotearoa and the Rangatahi Cricket Festival is giving the opportunity for rangatahi Māori and Pasifika to play the sport they love at a competitive level.

New Zealand Cricket estabished the secondary Māori schoolboys and schoolgirls teams in 2017, creating a space for Māori cricket players to represent their whānau, iwi, hapū and kura for a national side.

One of the athletes in the current Schoolboys side is Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Whānau Tahi student Pōtiki Hamilton-Morrison (Ngāti Kahungunu ki Te Wairoa, Ngā Rauru, Kāi Tahu) who is the only fluent Māori speaker in his team.

Hamilton-Morrison says his pride in being Māori, and playing with people like him outweighs any nerves he has for the tournament,

“He āhua āmaimai, engari he harikoa, nā te mea, e tae ana ahau ki te tākaro i te kirikiti ki tōku taha māori, nā te mea he tino pākehā tēnei hākinakina. Engari kei te taha o ngā Māori e maha, nā reira kei te harikoa,”

(I am a little bit nervous but I’m excited because, I’ve come here to play cricket as a Māori. This is a real Pākehā sport. But with me are a bunch of Māori, so yeah I’m really happy and excited.)

Te reo Māori encouraged

Young Māori have not traditionally gravitated towards cricket but te reo Māori is being used more fin broadcasting of cricket such as Māori commentary and bilingual cricket terms for national games.

Hamilton-Morrison says Māori would love cricket if they give it the chance.

“Ki tōku nei kura ka kī te maha o ngā tāngata, he hongihongia te kirikiti...

(In my school heaps of people say yeah cricket stinks...)

“They just say it’s boring but they’ve never played it. They only know watching it. But when you don’t know the sport, of course it’s going to be boring to watch. None of them have even given it a go. But I know a few Māori who have played, and they love it,” he says.

NZ Cricket diversity and inclusion lead Anaru Tara has been working to attract more Māori to the sport, and believes initiatives like the Rangatahi Cricket Festival are the right way to go.

“Ko te mea nui kia kite ai rātou i tētahi huarahi mō rātou, he ara kia whai wāhi ai rātau ki roto ki tō mātou kēmu,”

(The big thing for me is they see a pathway for themselves, an avenue so they can be involved in the game.)

This year marks the second Rangatahi Cricket Festival against the Pasifika schoolboys’ and schoolgirls’ teams.

Connecting te ao Māori and cricket

Tara says ensuring the link between the Māori culture and the game is vital in creating true diversity in the sport.

“Ko te mea nui, kia honohono (i) tō rātou ake ao Māori ki waenganui ki tēnei kēmu, kāore i te kēmu te mea nui. Nō reira, koirā ngā take nui mō tēnei kaupapa. Kite ai te nui o ngā kaitākaro kāore e kōrero ana i te reo māori, kāore rātou e mōhio ana ki tō rātou pepeha. Koinā te mea nui mō mātou kia hono (i) tō rātou ake ao māori ki waenganui i tēnei kēmu,”

(Another major point is making sure they can connect their Māori values to the game. Cricket is not the priority. So, for us those are the main points for this initiative. We see a bunch of players who can’t speak Māori, and don’t know their pepeha. That is our biggest goal, to ensure their Māoritanga has a place in our game.)

Both the Māori schoolboys and schoolgirtls’ teams participated in the first round of 20 over games against their Pasifika counterparts today and the tournament will carry on to the end of the week to face off in an all-day test of 50 over matches.