Regional | Ngā reo o Taranaki

Taranaki iwi turn out for Māori league tournament

Teams from around the Taranaki area gathered to participate in their annual Taranaki Whānui Māori Rugby League tournament in Manaia.

This year, for the first time, sees all eight tribes competing for the Albert Falwasser Cup.

It's another year, another tournament to celebrate Rugby League in Taranaki.

Taranaki Rugby League chairman Wayne Capper (Te Ātiawa, Taranaki) says, "All eight iwi for the first time [are] participating in the Taranaki Māori Rugby League tournament. So it's a massive accomplishment to see all our teams, all our iwi uniting under our maunga."

Making their debut this weekend are Ngāti Maru from the Northern area of Taranaki and Ngā Rauru. Ngāti Maru were devastating on day one, surprising many with a first-up win.

"There's been a lot of thing in there happening at the moment with Ngāti Maru. And to see them come into the tournament is a massive achievement for their iwi," says Capper.

Nine teams –Ngāti Tama, Ngāti Mutunga, Te Ātiawa, Taranaki, Ngāruahinerangi, Ngāti Ruanui, along with newcomers Ngāti Maru and Ngā Rauru– turned out for the tournament that was founded by former Kiwi Howie Tamati. However, there can only be one winner.

Capper says, "Te Ātiawa, the reigning champs, they'll be looking to go back-to-back and Ngāruahine is always strong at Māori Rugby League. They're at home, so they'll have the vocal crowd today. But any of the teams could surprise on the day, so it's going to be really exciting."

At this tournament, there is more than just iwi pride on the line, with selection for the Taranaki Māori Rugby League team up for grabs.

"We'll be naming a tournament team and a player of the tournament, along with haka champions and overall champions," says Capper.

Win or lose, at the end of the day, Taranaki Māori Rugby League is the winner on the day.