Regional | Hākinakina

Māori Football Aotearoa built upon a legacy

In a landmark moment, the Māori Football Association and their Aboriginal counterpart have joined forces, signing a treaty that ensures five years of test matches between the two sides.

This agreement represents the embodiment of aspirations held for years, and Māori Football Association coach and chairman Phillip Pickering-Parker says this marks a significant step forward in fostering a strong bond between two indigenous nations, continuing a legacy he and a friend once created.

“It was just a conversation between two bros at an airport after feeling disappointment - 34 years later we now have six Māori teams,” he says.

Pickering-Parker, of Ngāti Manawa, is enthusiastic about solidifying the relationship with the Aboriginal tribes.

“This was signalling to the world and anyone out there that there is an opportunity, and there is hope, and we're looking for them.”

The primary objective of the Māori Football Association is to cultivate a passion for soccer among the Māori community and foster success both on and off the field. Despite rugby's dominance in the country, Pickering-Parker stressed the importance of setting ambitious goals for Māori athletes to aspire to.

“We need to create Māori legends, we need to create Māori idols, and football players that look like us, sound like us, that behave like us. We need them to be visible,” he says.

On Thursday, teams from the Māori Football Association will embark on a journey to Australia, where they will kick-start the first test match on Saturday.

This tour will serve as an occasion for cultural exchanges between the Aboriginal and Māori communities, fostering understanding and strengthening their shared indigenous heritage.

The inaugural test match will be covered by Te Ao Māori News, capturing the significance of this moment for both nations.