Fans tuning in to this weekend's major rugby games will get the unique opportunity to listen to their commentary in te reo Māori.

It is part of a push by broadcaster Sky to make their coverage more inclusive, and includes introducing subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing, and even Samoan, Tongan and Fijian options for games later this month.

Sky director of sport Tex Teixeira said they wanted to make their broadcasts "more inclusive and enjoyable for all New Zealanders".

The company first introduced te reo and subtitles in July for the Māori All Blacks games against Fiji, and due to positive reactions decided to expand the option for All Blacks and Black Ferns games as well.


On Saturday fans watching the All Blacks versus Wallabies and Black Ferns versus Wallaroos will be able to choose subtitles, and te reo commentary by broadcaster Te Arahi Maipi and Government Minister Peeni Henare.

Tāmaki Makaurau MP Peeni Henare will be commentating the games in te reo Māori, alongside broadcaster Te Arahi Maipi. Photo / File
Tāmaki Makaurau MP Peeni Henare will be commentating the games in te reo Māori, alongside broadcaster Te Arahi Maipi. Photo / File

Both Maipi and Henare commentated in the 2011 Rugby World Cup, when Māori TV provided commentary options in both English and te reo in its coverage of all 48 games.

Henare, MP for Tāmaki Makaurau, said it was an "awesome initiative" from Sky and he was glad to have been approached to help out.

"This country is rugby mad and in most places there is a Māori element to it, whether it is in haka or mihi after games, so this is a fantastic way of adding to that."

Te reo was Henare's first language, and the only language spoken in his household growing up.

He was among the country's first "kohanga reo babies" - the Māori immersive preschool movement established by his grandfather Sir James Henare, and his father Erima Henare was the head of Te Taura Whiri i Te Reo Māori (Māori Language Commission).

"I am a passionate advocate of te reo and I think this is a great way of normalising it, but also on a personal side it marries two things I love - rugby and te reo," Henare said.

Te Taura Whiri i Te Reo Māori chief executive Ngahiwi Apanui said the iniative would provide speakers, learners and even those who are just curious, a further chance to engage with te reo.


Given it was Rugby World Cup year, Apanui said it would be great to see broadcast rights holders TVNZ and Spark get on board.

"As a rugby fan speaker of te reo it would be really nice if that option was available."

A spokeswoman for TVNZ said commentary in te reo would not be offered in their Rugby World Cup coverage.

Sky is also offering the option for the All Blacks versus Tonga game on September 7; and for the double-header on August 31 Samoan commentary as Manu Samoa take on the New Zealand Heartland XV, and Tongan and Fijian commentary as those two nations battle it out.