100 Years of Maori Rugby

When the New Zealand Māori rugby team played their first ever game and won, they set the standard for all the games to follow. They also established a playing culture and style for which they have since become famous, in New Zealand and around the world.

Issue information

Since that first game 100 years ago, New Zealand Māori rugby teams have been an inspiration for generations of young, talented players - offering a pathway to sporting excellence, and providing New Zealand with a representative team renowned for its pride, tenacity and moments of sheer sporting brilliance.

In this stamp release, we paid tribute to the players, coaches, administrators and supporters who have taken New Zealand Māori rugby through the decades, overcoming challenges to emerge stronger and more relevant than ever.

Rau Tau

One hundred years of the New Zealand Māori rugby team

The Birth of Māori Rugby

In 1872, One Wirihana, the first Māori known to have played in an organised game of 20-a-side rugby took the field in Whanganui. In the Native Team of 1888–89, Tom Ellison introduced the haka and the black jersey with the silver fern on the chest, and from then Māori rugby has long enjoyed a special place in New Zealand sport.

On 21 May 1910 the first official New Zealand Māori team played its inaugural game in Rotorua against the Rotorua sub-union. The New Zealand Māori team won 25–5.

The Team

The number of Māori players in the current All Black team reflect both the affinity and ability Māori have for the game of rugby. Great Māori rugby players of the past such as Joe Warbrick, Wiremu Parata, Alex Takarangi, Tom French, George Nēpia, Waka Nathan, Pat Walsh, Mac Herewini, Tane Norton, Sid Going and Buck Shelford have helped pave the way for current players. With young Māori players following in their footsteps the future of Māori rugby looks bright.

The Celebration — Sealord New Zealand Māori Centenary Series

In 2010 the NZRU and Māori rugby recognised the 100 years of outstanding contribution which Māori rugby has made to New Zealand rugby.

The three-match “Sealord New Zealand Māori Centenary Series” took place in June and included two internationals. The first match was against Ireland in Rotorua and the second, five days later, against England in Napier.

The opening match of the Sealord Series was in Whāngarei against the New Zealand Barbarians. This match was the first game played at the newly built Northland Events Centre.

Tūturu Whakamaua kia tina – Tina! Haumi e ! Hui e ! Taiki e ! 

To Honour the Past – the Present – and the Future

The centenary jersey honours all those who earned the right to wear it and the sacrifices made by their whanau.

The Stories Behind the Stamp Images

Te Ao Hōu

The New Dawn

The New Zealand Māori Rugby Centenary Jersey

The centenary jersey with its ornate Māori imagery pays homage to the past 100 years of Māori rugby. It represents a journey from the past to the present — the dawning of a new era, lighting a pathway for the future of New Zealand Māori rugby.

Mai i te whaiao ki te ao mārama

From the dim light of morning to the bright light of a new day.

The centenary jersey is based on two iconic features of the Māori world: the Korowai (cloak) and the Wharenui (meeting house). Both the wharenui and the korowai provide warmth, shelter and protection, calmness, peace and mana (prestige).

Korowai

Korowai are ornate cloaks holding significant importance within the Māori world, often elaborately designed and painstakingly manufactured. The korowai is usually worn on special occasions by those with mana (high ranking), most of whom have earned the right through either birth or exceptional deeds. Players selected in the New Zealand Māori team 2010 gain selection both through birth, namely, their Māori whakapapa (genealogy), and through their deeds on the rugby field which validate their right to wear the centenary jersey.

He ao te rangi ka uhia, he huruhuru te manu ka tau – na Tamaterangi

It requires clouds to clothe heaven and feathers to make a bird fly - by Tamaterangi.

Wharenui

Wharenui are ancestral meeting houses holding pride of place on tribal marae (communal gathering facilities). The wharenui is the literal representation of an illustrious tribal ancestor and is often named after that person.

The kōruru (head) sits at the apex of the two downward slanting maihi (arms) and raparapa (fingers) splayed in a welcoming pose above two upright supports, amo (legs). The two amo represent the earthly and human domains. The tatau (doorway) of the wharenui allows entry into te puku o te tupuna (the inner sanctum of the ancestor). Inside, the tāhuhu (ridgepole) is clearly visible as the spine running the length of the wharenui with heke (ribs) in the form of kōwhaiwhai (painted panels) slanting diagonally downwards to poupou (upright carved figures) representing both tribal ancestors and various deities of the Māori world. In between the poupou are tukutuku (woven panels) depicting environmental and spiritual elements.

The inside of the wharenui is deemed to be the realm of Rongo (god of Peace), while the outside ground in front of the meeting house, the marae ātea, is the realm of Tūmatauenga (god of War).

He whare tū ki te wā kei te paenga, he kai nā te ahi; He whare maihi tū roto ki te pā tūwatawata, he tohu nō te rangatira – na Taharākau.

A house standing alone is food for the fire, a finely carved house within a fortified village is the sign of a chief – by Taharākau.

The Wearer of the Jersey

As you put the jersey on, your arms become the maihi, your fingers the raparapa, your legs the amo, your backbone the tāhuhu, your ribs the heke and at the apex your head becomes the kōruru.

In wearing this jersey your mauri (life force) and the spirits of your tupuna (ancestors) bring it to life and it becomes the korowai which supports you for the challenges that lay before you in this life… whatever they may be!

NZRU Acknowledgements

  • The New Zealand Māori Rugby Team
  • New Zealand Rugby Union
  • Adidas
  • Te Puni Kōkiri
  • Whetu Tipiwai, NZ Māori Rugby Team Kaumātua
  • Luke Crawford, Kaumātua
  • Tiki Edwards, NZ Māori Rugby Liaison Officer
  • Dave Burke, Creative and Design Director, MCK Design & Print, Dunedin
  • www.maori.org.nz
  • www.teara.govt.nz

In a project as large as this, it is not done by one hand alone, but many. We would like to pay tribute to all those who helped bring this jersey to life, particularly the expert carvers, weavers and artisans who shared their korero with us. We would also like to thank our whanau for their love, support and understanding.

The New Zealand Māori Centenary Jersey Design

The New Zealand Māori Centenary Jersey draws its design firstly from the team haka “Tīmatanga” performed by the New Zealand Māori players before each game, and, secondly, from aspects of the Māori world, both real and mythological.

The following explanations will assist in understanding the various design elements on the jersey by numbering each figure and describing its relevance and placement. Some of the explanations contain the words of the team haka (in italics) and describe each of the mythological and real elements incorporated into the jersey. The full team haka appears at the end of the page.

In The Beginning (There was nothing but Darkness)

I te tīmatanga        In the beginning
Ko te kore             There was nothing
Ko te pō nui          The big darkness
Ko te pō roa          The long darkness

Māori believe that in the beginning there was only darkness. Ranginui (the sky father) and Papatūānuku (the earth mother) held each other in a close embrace.

The children of Ranginui and Papatūānuku felt trapped in the darkness between their parents and wanted to kill their parents in order to be free.

Rūaumoko their unborn child (god of volcanoes and earthquakes) was against the separation of his parents. Today you can still feel and hear his rumbling of discontent. Tāwhirimatea (god of winds and storms) felt pity for his parents and suggested they be separated rather than killed. The centenary jersey is a black jersey adorned with Māori imagery printed in dark black ink. It is from the darkness, the nothing, that all things are created, and it is from this black jersey that another 100 years of Māori rugby begins.

1. The Separation (The Coming of Light)

Wehenga mātua The separation of Rangi and Papa

Rongo-mā-Tāne (god of kūmara), Tangaroa (god of the oceans), Haumia-tiketike (god of uncultivated food) and Tūmatauenga (god of war), all took turns trying to separate their parents, with no success.

Only Tāne Māhuta (god of the forest) was able to separate their parents by lying on his back and pushing up with the strength of his legs. Ka tokona a Ranginui ki runga (pushing his father Ranginui high above), Ko Papatūānuku ki raro (and leaving Papatūānuku below).

Herenga tāngata Formed man, people and all living things

It was Tāne Māhuta (god of the forest) who covered his mother with a cloak of trees and creatures to keep her warm. Once the light shone through, the dark world came to life.

It was Tāne who formed Hine-ahu-one (earth maiden), the first woman, from red clay. It was here that humankind began.

Papatūānuku (placed on the lower back of the jersey) gives grounding to the jersey and the wearer of the jersey, and they connect themselves back to her when they stand firm, stand proud, stand strong on the earth and draw their power from her.

Ranginui is represented by the figure at the top of the shoulder blades (high in the heavens) and Tāne Māhuta is the central figure in the middle of the back of the jersey, separating his mother and father, so that new life and light may enter the world. These three figures also represent the whakapapa (family lineage) of the wearer of the jersey, strengthening family ties through their achievements and embodies the concept of balance — male and female.

Tūmatauenga (god of war) had many children, but of all his children, Māui-tikitiki-a-Tāranga the demi-god, was the most significant. It was Māui who snared the sun, captured fire, and fished up Aotearoa, New Zealand.

2. The Four Winds (Ngā Hau e Whā)

Ngā hau e whā e ngunguru nei! Oh the four winds are indeed resounding!

Tāwhirimatea (god of winds and storms) was so angered by the way his brothers had treated their parents that he flew to be with his father in the sky.

He sent four of his wind children to each quarter of the compass: Tūāraki (northerly), Tonga (southerly), Marangai (easterly) and Hauāuru (westerly), to attack his brothers. Only Tūmatauenga (god of man and war) was able to withstand the anger of Tāwhirimatea.

In the jersey design the four winds, tekoteko (carved heads), appear one on each arm and down each side, and represent the team selected from Ngā Hau e Whā (the four winds) of Aotearoa (New Zealand). Today those four winds are known as Te Hau Raki (North), Te Hau Tonga (South), Te Hau Rāwhiti (East), Te Hau ā Uru (West).

3. The Adidas Stripes (Ngā Rārangi)

In keeping with the rest of the jersey, the three adidas stripes on the arms of the jersey symbolically represent the Maihi (arms of the meeting house), and the three stripes also pay respect to the past, present and future of Māori rugby.

4. The Land (Whenua)

The Māori word whenua has a dual translation both as placenta and as land. It is traditional for Māori that, after a child is born, their placenta (whenua) is returned to the land (whenua) through burial in preordained family areas. Māori therefore have spiritual and physical links to the land through this process, and it is why Maori consider themselves to
be tangata whenua (people of the land). Whenua is at the base of the front and back of the jersey, from where spring the ferns.

5. Mountain (Maunga)

To Māori, one’s ancestral maunga (mountain) standing tall, solid, proud and grand — represents a place from which we draw great strength and power. Rising towards the realms of Ranginui the Sky Father, remote from human settlement, mountains loomed over the Māori world. They were places of great awe and spiritual presence.

Nearly every range and prominent peak in the country is linked to local tribal identity and mana. In the jersey the maunga is represented by the triangular shape beneath the collar (and above the head of Tanerōre).

Whakaki ki te maunga     If we aim for the mountains
Tae ki te whenua             You will hit the plains
Hoki ki te rangi                If you aim for the sky
Tae ki te pukerunga        You will hit the mountain peaks

Challenges and goals were set for all creatures in the Māori world encouraging them to aim for Ranginui (the sky father) so they may hit the mountain peaks of Papatūānuku (the earth mother).

The main reason the New Zealand Māori Rugby Team plays with such passion and pride is that they represent all iwi of Aotearoa. They play for those who have preceded them, those who are present now, and they lay the path for future generations. “Mai i tōku whānau, mai i tōku hapū, mai i tōku iwi”(from and for my family, sub-tribe and tribe).

6. The Koru (fern frond)

Ka hinga atu he tētē-kura      As one fern frond dies (chief dies)
Ka hara-mai he tētē-kura      Another rises to take his place

The koru design is often used in Māori art as a symbol of creation and reflects the opening of a fern frond bringing new life, new beginnings, regeneration, re-growth and purity to the world. It represents peace, tranquillity, spirituality and the nurturing loving relationships within the family.

A single koru, with secondary protrusions growing from it, symbolises parenthood and whakapapa (ancestry/genealogy). It also symbolises sustainability by the passing of life, information and resources from one generation to the next.

7. Ferns (Ngā Ponga)

The fern depicts new beginnings, growth and harmony. The silver fern is the “the symbol” of the New Zealand Rugby Union and is the crest on the chest of the jersey of all the NZRU representative teams, including the New Zealand Māori team.

The fern on the right side of the front of the jersey (as worn) is based on the original fern worn by the first Māori team in 1910 (and also the first All Blacks fern). It represents the past players who are no longer with us. It also pays respect to Tom Ellison (one of Māori rugby’s most famous sons) who was the first to suggest that the playing colours of New Zealand rugby should be black with a silver fern.

The fern on the left side of the front of the jersey is the modern fern worn today. It represents those who have played for the New Zealand Māori team that are still with us.

8. Whakapapa (ancestral/genealogical links)

Piki ake piki ake       Climb up, thrive
Ki te ara poutama     To the pathway of knowledge

Māori place great stock on knowing ones whakapapa (genealogy), where one is from, who their family is, and their tribal connections. In times of war or hardship knowing who was related to whom, and the strength of those connections, were invaluable and often lifesaving. Many tribes have dedicated people who hold knowledge of family whakapapa
going back even as far as the original Māori settlers to Aotearoa New Zealand who arrived on migrational waka (ocean going canoes) from the south pacific.

When players make the New Zealand Māori Rugby Team, each player’s whakapapa is validated by the team kaumātua, and every member of the squad recites their whakapapa to the team to identify genealogical links and unite the team.

It is also important to acknowledge the role that women play in whakapapa for without women there would simply be no whakapapa. In saying this, we must also pay homage to our wahine for the part they have played in Māori rugby over the years as supporters, coaches, administrators and players. For all their involvement we honour them.

9. Poutama (Stairway to Heaven)

The poutama (Stairway to Heaven) design in the jersey symbolises a climb made by Tānenui-ā-rangi who climbed the heavens to receive the three baskets of knowledge and two stones or whatukura (of knowledge and mana) from Io (the supreme being). When we look at the construction of poutama, we find a series of steps denoting the steps of progress and advancement through education. From this will emerge rangatira (chiefs and leaders of the future).

Ki ngā taumatatanga e      To achieve excellence
Wairua                              Spiritually
Hinengaro                         Mentally
Tinana                              Physically

10. Te Manaia and Wairua (Spirit)

Te Manaia is a bird-like figure that has supernatural powers as a spiritual guardian. Te Manaia has the head of a bird, the body of a man and the tail of a fish, representing the balance between sky, earth and water.

In Te Ao Māori (the Māori world), Te Manaia is regarded as the unseen light surrounding each individual, likened to a bird sitting on your shoulder as a guardian guiding your spirit.

11. Hei Tiki and Hinengaro (Mind)

The Hei Tiki is a talisman, and has been regarded as a good luck charm from the ancient times, representing the unborn human embryo.
It is believed Hei Tiki was the first man in the Māori world and that he came from the stars. The tilted head represents thinking (clarity of thought), the hands represent strength, the mouth is a reference to communication, the heart represents love and the loins refer to
fertility.

12. Mangōpare and Tinana (Body)

The double-headed koru design draws upon the warrior-like features of the mangōpare or ururoa (the hammerhead shark) which is known for its strength, ferocity and determination to fight to the end.

The Mangōpare design is also incorporated throughout the jersey representing the swirling winds of Ngā Hau e Whā (the four winds or coasts) of Aotearoa (New Zealand).

Kia mate mangōpare kei mate wheke.

It is better to die like a hammerhead shark than die like an octopus.

These are all the spiritual, mental and physical features required to achieve the standards of the New Zealand Māori Rugby Team.

13. Tanerōre (god of Haka and Māori Rugby Team Kaitiaki)

The Central figure on the front of the jersey is Tanerōre, god of haka, who epitomises everything about the New Zealand Māori team and what it is to be Māori. He is the Kaitiaki (Guardian) of Māori rugby and represents the warrior spirit (wairua) of the person wearing the jersey and the spirits of all of those whom have worn the jersey before.

Tanerōre stands strong and upright holding a rugby ball that bears the Rau Tau centenary mark. The same mark also appears under the collar in the centre of jersey. This is the official Rau Tau: 100 years of Maori Rugby logo. The ball shape represents the circle of life — all things being connected. It represents the relationship or oneness between team mates, and the bringing together of head, hand and heart. Within the heart of the ball is the silver fern of New Zealand Rugby and the mangōpare shark pattern.

The mangōpare are positioned above and below the silver fern. They circle the fern, and protect the fern as Kaitiaki (Guardians). They protect the legacy of the Māori Rugby Team and by doing so ensure a strong and proud future. The design also reflects a balance between
past, present, and future players — it pays respect to them all.

The mangōpare design represents the hammerhead shark. The hammerhead shark is very respected in the Maori world, as a symbol of strength, power and determination. The hammerhead shark, if caught, will never give up without a fight, it will fight to the end, until it has nothing left to give. It shows an unwillingness to back down, no matter what obstacle it faces. This is symbolic of the attitude of our team and what we project when we meet other teams on the field: we display the defining qualities of the mangōpare. The design captures the speed and movement of the shark to draw the parallel with the flair and fluidity that the team is famous for. It reflects and pays respect to the warrior spirit of the New Zealand Māori and reflects the mana of the team and all those who have represented the team over 100 years.

Tanerōre is situated over the puku (abdomen), the core of the person wearing the jersey. It is from the puku that we draw strength and increase mātauranga (knowledge), embracing whānaungatanga (unity) and taumatatanga (excellence) for the present and future of Māori Rugby.

The Haka (Laying Down a Challenge)

The Māori team’s haka, Tīmatanga, was composed by Whetu Tipiwai, kaumatua for the New Zealand Māori team. He gifted this taonga (treasure) to the team when it was first performed by the team in 2001.
The haka recounts the Māori view of creation from the void, the nothingness and the darkness to what we have at the present, namely, a Māori rugby team representing Māori and New Zealand from the four winds of Aotearoa.

Tīmatanga (The beginning — New Zealand Māori Rugby Team Haka)

I te tīmatanga                      In the beginning
Ko te kore                            there was nothing
Ko te pō nui                         and there dwelt the great darkness
Ko te pō roa                         the big long darkness
Wehenga Mātua                   the separation of Rangi and Papa
Herenga Tāngata                 formed man, people and all living things
He toa Rangatahi                 formation of young warriors
He toa Rangatira                  formation of young Chiefs
Whakakī ki te Maunga          If we aim for the mountains
Tae ki te Whenua                  you will hit the plains
Hoki ki te Rangi                    if you aim for the sky
Tae ki te Pukerunga             you will hit the mountain peaks
Piki ake piki ake                   Climb up, thrive
Ki te ara Poutama                 to the pathway of knowledge
Ki ngā Taumatatanga e        to achieve excellence
Wairua Hinengaro Tīnana     spiritually, mentally, physically

Tūturu Whakamaua kia tina! – Tina! Haumi e ! Hui e ! Taiki e !

To Honour the Past – the Present – and the Future

The centenary jersey honours all those who earned the right to wear it and the sacrifices made by their whanau.

Rau Tau - 100 Years of Maori Rugby Logo

EXPLAINING THE MARK: (Te Whakamaramatanga)

The ball shape represents the circle of life - all things being connected.

It represents (Kotahitanga) the relationship or oneness between team mates, and the bringing together head, hand and heart. “Te Porowhita” “The Ball” Poro is a transliterated word into Maoridom. Whita is to lash together and to affix firmly. Within the heart of the ball is the silver fern of New Zealand Rugby and the mangopare shark pattern.

The mangopare are positioned above and below Te Ponga Hirewa (the silver fern). They circle the fern, and protect the fern as Kaitiaki (Guardians). They protect the legacy of the Maori Rugby Team and by doing so ensure a strong and proud future. The design also reflects a balance between past, present, and future players - it pays respect to them all. The Silver Fern represents us as a nation.

The mangopare design represents the hammerhead shark. The hammerhead shark is very respected in the Maori world, as a symbol of strength, power and determination. The hammerhead shark, if caught, will never give up without a fight, it will fight to the end - till it has nothing left to give. It shows an unwillingness to back down, no matter what obstacle it faces. This is symbolic of the attitude of our team and what we project when we meet other teams on the field - we display the defining qualities of the mangopare. The design captures the speed and movement of the shark to draw the parallel with the flair and fluidity that the team is famous for.

Kia mate a mangopare, kei mate a tarakihi

Die like the hammerhead shark and not like the tarakihi

The “Rau Tau” Centennary design pays respect to the Maori warrior spirit and reflects the mana of the New Zealand Maori team and all those who have represented them over the last 100 years.

Product Listing for 100 Years of Māori Rugby

Click on image to enlarge.

Image Title Description Price
Single Stamp Single 50c 'Rugby Jersey' gummed stamp. $0.50
Single Stamp Single $1.80 'Centenary Logo' gumed stamp. $1.80
Miniature Sheet Mint. used or cancelled miniature sheet. $2.30
First Day Cover First day cover with stamps affixed. Cancelled on the first day of issue. $2.80
Miniature Sheet First Day Cover First day cover with miniature sheet affixed. Cancelled on the first day of issue. $2.80

Technical information

Date of issue: 9 June 2010
Number of stamps: Two gummed stamps
Miniature sheet: One sheet with two stamps
Denominations: 50c, $1.80
Stamps designed by: Len Hetet, Whakatane, New Zealand
Miniature sheet and first day covers designed by: Stamps and Collectables Business, New Zealand Post, Wellington, New Zealand
Printer and process: Southern Colour Print Ltd by offset lithography
Number of colours: Four process colours plus Synseal gloss varnish
Stamp size and format: 30mm x 40mm (vertical)
Paper type: Tullis Russell 104gsm red phosphor gummed stamp paper
Number of stamps per sheet: 25 stamps
Perforation gauge: 14
Special blocks: Plate/imprint blocks could be obtained by purchasing at five stamps from a sheet. Barcode blocks were available in both A and B formats.
Period of sale: These stamps remained on sale until close of business 8 June 2011.