How the Women’s Rugby World Cup embraced te ao Māori

The Women’s Rugby World Cup 2021 held here in Aotearoa over the past month was one of the most influential women's sports tournaments we’ve seen here in our country. Yes, the tournament is a celebration of women and a celebration of rugby, but, one thing that has stuck out the most is the presence of te ao Māori. 

Black Ferns player Sarah Hirini loves that te ao Māori is being embraced. “I think one of the best things about the World Cup, probably one of the things my whānau have enjoyed the most, is seeing all the poi,” she says.

Whether it’s the thousands of poi across the stadiums, the powerful Black Ferns haka, the iconic Hinewehi Mohi singing the national anthems or the beautiful mihi players made in te reo Māori - there is no doubt that te ao Māori was at the forefront of the Rugby World Cup and even players from other countries embraced it wholeheartedly. 

“It’s pretty cool that they've delved in, they really want to do the haka, they really want to swing those poi - I’m so proud to be Māori.” says Black Fern Stacey Fluhler. 

“That's the cool thing about sport. It brings everyone together.”

The successful tournament had a fairytale end with the Black Ferns defeating England in the final and Sarah Hirini believes it’s part of a huge momentum shift for women’s rugby and sports in general. 

“I hope Aotearoa keep backing us because we need them.”

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