Former Black Caps captain Ross Taylor is optimistic the naming of the first Aotearoa Māori Women’s cricket team will lead to further opportunities for Māori and Pasifika outside of traditional sports.
New Zealand Cricket has selected the first Aotearoa Māori Women’s cricket team, which will compete in the Pacific Cup tournament in Tāmaki Makaurau next year.
The team will be coached by former White Ferns captain Maia Lewis (Ngāti Whātua and Ngāti Māniapoto).
“This opportunity is a welcome extension to the pathway for Māori cricketers,” said Lewis.
Following the successful Wāhine Māori National Tournament in October, Lewis said the Pasific Cup was another opportunity to showcase some of our “best Māori wāhine players”.
“We are creating a legacy and a pathway for Māori wāhine cricketers for the future.”
Former Black Caps captain Ross Taylor says “it’s been a big push for a while now”.
The announcement of the Māori Women’s cricket team has been a “flow-on effect” from the success of the Māori and Pacific secondary school cricket tournament last year.
New Zealand Diversity and Inclusion lead Andrew Tara emphasises that NZC is committed to continuing to grow the sport within Māori and Pasifika.
“Off the back of the inaugural wāhine nationals in Hastings last month, we’re delighted to be able to continue offering opportunities for Māori cricketers.
“Building capability on and off the field and supporting the development of cricket in the Pacific has been a key driver in our commitment to hosting this tournament.”
Taylor said that being of Samoan descent, he had been wanting to promote cricket in the islands for years.
This will be the first senior team to enter since 2001 when the Māori men won the Pacific Cup against Fiji.
With the cup being held in Tāmaki Makaurau, Taylor said the Pacific nations will get to experience “playing on grass... playing in different conditions”.
“They obviously play on artificial in some of these countries and facilities are obviously quite tough.
“To come into a tier one test playing nation and expose [the Pacific nations] to different conditions...having that international exposure is the start.”
Taylor is determined to create pathways outside the traditional sports like rugby, rugby league and netball for the Polynesian and Māori community.
“There is an avenue to play cricket not only as a passion and a hobby but also at a high level like the Olympics and making a living out of it.
“Hopefully this tournament is a success in getting the word out there that cricket is a sport for everybody.”
The main goal for NZC is inclusivity and making the sport more accessible, including promoting the game in the Pacific Islands as well.
“There is still a long way to go but this is definitely a way forward for the future of Polynesian and Māori cricket in New Zealand.”