Māori rugby stars playing for Australia is not uncommon since the rise of Quade Cooper. However, there are now two wāhine Māori proudly wearing green and gold while maintaining their Māoritanga.
Bienne Terita (Ngāi Tūhoe) and Trilleen Pomare (Ngāpuhi, Te Rarawa) are two Māori in the Wallaroos rugby team for this year’s Women’s Rugby World Cup.
“My parents are very proud of me, and my family is very proud that I represent my country and that’s a choice I’ve made too. They tell me I’m in the wrong colours sometimes, but I’m happy and they’re happy with my choice,” Terita says.
Pomare says, “I’m proud to be wearing a green and gold jersey, I grew up here, I went to kura growing up, so I was heavily immersed in our culture by my dad so, for me, it’s an opportunity to give back to the country that gave me so much. It changed our lives over in Aussie for myself and my family, so I’m pretty privileged and proud to throw it on.”
Whānau and a burning desire to be the best is what drives these players every time they set foot on to the pitch.
Passionate and competitive
“I’ve been really passionate about rugby my whole life, ever since I can remember, and I’m quite competitive and love to win so that’s probably a big reason why,” Terita says.
"I think there are so many people who invest in you when you're a little kid. One of my favourite whakataukī that I live by is 'Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi, engari he toa takitini'. (My success is not mine alone but belongs to many).
“It just reminds me of all the people like my nan, and all the people that looked after us to get us to training, drove us around the country, who put so many hours into getting us there and then we get to be there and just play,” Pomare says.
Their next game is against Scotland in Whangārei, which will be a homecoming for Pomare.
“To be honest we’re on our whenua, we’re in Ngāpuhi, so it’s still home, it’s not too far out. But we have heaps of family coming from Ahipara, from Mutukura, from the valley, so it’s cool to have it in Northland, bringing rugby here.
Here to win 100%
“There are so many countries here, for tourism, showing little kids where you can go, where you can be. I was that little kid playing outside the marae in bare feet. It’s cool to bring it here to Northland away from the city in little rural areas to enjoy the game.”
Last Saturday the Wallaroos took on the Black Ferns, resulting in a loss but that hasn’t turned their focus away from their ultimate goal.
Terita says, “It’s to go all the way, to win, 100%.”
“Our belief is what’s special about us is we’ve got so many indigenous people from so many different countries and we celebrate each other and we celebrate all of it,” Pomare says. “We have a culture to celebrate each other’s cultures because we’re so diverse in our team. The belief is there - we just have to go out and execute. Yeah pretty much here to win it,” she says.