Indigenous | Chiefs

Super Pacific culture round celebrates tā moko

Round 10 of the DHL Super Rugby Pacific celebrates the many cultures that unify teams and fans across the Pacific region, and the Gallagher Chiefs for the first time have made it possible for fans to participate in face painting with Māori tā moko/ kirituhi or moko kauae.

Gallagher Chiefs Toa Māori lead Ora Kihi says his team celebrates indigenous culture every day of the year and not just for one night.

“It’s from the talks and persistence from coach Clayton McMillan. He is the one that got this kaupapa over the line,” Kihi said.

All 12 Super Rugby clubs showcased the cultures of their teams and rugby through dance, music, cultural jerseys, and language.

Fans were encouraged to embrace the culture round in the stands through cultural attire, a flag or by getting involved in the activities at the games.

Celebrated daily

Chiefs coach Clayton McMillan and captain Sam Cane were excited about culture round but made it clear to their team that culture was to be lived and celebrated daily and not just during one round.

“We are seeing things like kids turning up and having moko. We are seeing captains and other people speak in their native tongue and it is just becoming normalised in society and I think that is a fantastic thing,” McMillan said.

The Brush Kings and Queens from Tokoroa reached out to the Chiefs and offered to do free tā moko/ kirituhi and moko kauae for the sold-out 25,000 seater venue at Hamiltons FMG Stadium Waikato. Thousands took up the opportunity to support the cultural round by putting on the moko.

“As you can see the fans love it. Obviously we can wipe it off at the end of the day but it is something we can put on and take a photo, put it on Tiktok, put it on Facebook,” one of the artists, Charity Broughton, said.

Len Williams from Te Awamutu had seen the moko being worn but this was a first for him.

Fans thrilled

“As soon as I put it on, and looked in the mirror, oh oohhh, it looks really good,” he said.

Nadine Partridge, who lives in Hamilton and attends most Chiefs games, was quick to jump at the chance of putting on her own moko kauae: “Very heart-felt. It’s the first time I have seen them here, otherwise I would every time be getting a moko kauae because I come to nearly every game the Chiefs play,” she said.

‘Filled with pride’

Super Rugby Pacific Tournament director Matt Barlow said it was a competition filled with pride, “both for those playing and those cheering”.

“The culture round is our opportunity to shine a light on the incredible diversity of cultures that come together in rugby. From the fans to the players and coaches, it’s a game that embraces people from every corner of the world and is all the richer for it.”

Earlier this season the Chiefs bested the Crusaders 31-10 in the first match of the season. Going into tonight's match the Crusaders had been sitting fourth on the table, with their only other loss this season being to the Fijian Drua.

The so-far unbeaten Chiefs’ win on home turf 34:24 against defending champions the Crusader took the Chiefs’ run of wins to nine in a row, placing them squarely at the top of the table for this season.