History, grassroots rugby and the community are paid tribute to on Northland's Mitre 10 Cup jersey.

Working with Big Fish Creative, Paladin and Northland Rugby Union, designer Poutama Hetaraka and father Te Warihi have helped give the Northland jersey a breath of fresh air.

Poutama Hetaraka said right from the beginning the idea of taking the jersey back to Northland's roots was an important facet.

"From the start we wanted to take the jersey and the team back to Northland as a whole. We wanted to do that with the jersey and keeping with the Taniwha theme the side already has," he said.


Northland Taniwha Jersey from Big Fish Creative on Vimeo.

"As Maori the Taniwha is something we've always had growing up. Whether that be for guidance or protection or to keep us away from particular areas, kind of like a scare tactic. It's more of a guardian for us than anything.

"For the jersey, we wanted to take it back to the club and sub-union level. There's a Taniwha for each sub-union of Northland rugby so our team can know that this is where we come from as individual players in terms of sub-unions and clubs within them.

"On each of the Taniwha there's a spike thorn or taratara for every club within that sub-union. We take those Taniwha from around the region and bring them all together as one to play as one team united."

As well as looking to the six sub-unions (Mangonui, Bay of Islands, Hokianga, Whangarei, Northern Wairoa and Rodney-Otamatea) where players begin playing their rugby, the jersey looks to the past for inspiration.

The manawa design pays tribute to Northlanders who took an extra step in their careers.

"Through the centrepiece and the sleeve there is a manawa line in the form of the mangopare [hammerhead] design," Hetaraka said.

The Northland 2017 Mitre 10 Cup jersey. PHOTO/NORTHLAND RUGBY UNION FACEBOOK
The Northland 2017 Mitre 10 Cup jersey. PHOTO/NORTHLAND RUGBY UNION FACEBOOK

"There's one for each past player that has gone on to represent the All Blacks on the international level, both past and present.

"It's to pay to homage to those players and for the current guys to carry on to the field with them and keep them in mind when trying to win."

The new strip seems to have done the trick on the field with Northland picking up three wins in their first four outings. But could it be because of the new jersey?

"A lot of people have been saying that. We're getting a few tags on Facebook with people saying "must be the new jersey!" he said.

"But no, we can't say that. They've got a great team on paper and proving to be strong on the field. It's great to see our rep players in the jersey with the likes of the Goodhue boys, the Pryor boys and Rene Ranger.

"Rene is on the jersey as a former All Black so hopefully he's bringing that with him to hopefully inspire the younger players."

The new design gives a new look to what is a new-look side in terms of their performance.

Big Fish Creative took their design and put the artwork on a jersey which they supplied to Paladin to create on the jersey material.

Creative director Tristan Tuckey said they were rapt with how the jersey came out.

"Being able to collaborate with Poutama and Te Warihi was great," he said.

"We wanted the Taniwha to be really authentic and the result is something we can all get behind."

For Hetaraka, there's a sense of pride when watching the Northland side wear the jersey on to Toll Stadium.

"It's a bit of a buzz, especially them just leaving it for the top side rather than going through all the levels. It hopefully gives the up-and-comers something to aspire to," he said.

"Mostly for me it was about the community. Hopefully it gets the region at a grassroots level get behind our Northland boys who as we know haven't done so well but are proving to be doing well."