New Zealand Rugby League

In a momentous constitutional meeting following New Zealand Rugby League’s (NZRL) AGM, overdue constitutional changes have been passed to elevate Aotearoa NZ Māori Rugby League (ANZMRL) to full voting member status.

Furthermore, the Chair of ANZMRL now has a permanent and dedicated seat on NZRL’s Board.

These historic constitutional changes result from ongoing efforts to deepen and better honour the partnership between NZRL and ANZMRL.

Previously, ANZMRL has been an Associate Member of NZRL. As such, did not have a vote or any other governance status within NZRL other than attending the AGM. NZRL’s Constitution also made no mention of Te Tiriti or tikanga Māori.

This in no way honoured ANZMRL’s long-standing history and influence on the game or embraced the partnership that should have existed between the two entities for some time now.

ANZMRL has a long and proud history dating back to the start of rugby league in New Zealand. The first national Māori team was assembled in 1908, and in October 1934, the original New Zealand Māori Rugby League Control Board formed in Huntly.

ANZMRL has continued to grow and flourish over the past 19 years, developing into a leading Māori community sport entity in Aotearoa. The kaupapa of celebrating being Māori, as Māori, for Māori, by Māori using Māori Rugby League as the vehicle, is widely acknowledged.

NZRL’s Constitution will now be amended to uphold the mana of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, the principles of Partnership, Protection and Participation and to promote, support and foster te iwi Māori mo ona tikanga.

“Better honouring bi-cultural governance, Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and the role and influence Māori rugby league has on our game is long overdue,” says NZRL CEO Greg Peters.

“It is a great feeling to be able to formally recognise the incontrovertible role ANZMRL plays in our game and make meaningful constitutional changes to honour and respect that role.

“Personally, I have found this process one of the most rewarding outcomes of my sports administration career. Working with JD and his team to fully understand the significant contribution ANZMRL make to our game both historically and in recent years has been invaluable.”

“Ki te kotahi kakahu ka whati, ki te kapuia e kare whati – Alone we can be broken, standing together we are invincible,” says Chairman of ANZMRL John Devonshire.

“A tremendous initiative that some may say is well overdue,” he adds.

“Nevertheless, it is happening today, and for that, we as a Māori rugby league whanau are grateful and acknowledge the current NZRL officials that have been brave enough and sincere about recognising the part Māori play in the game.

“It is in times like this you reflect on those tupuna (ancestors) who set the kaupapa on its haerenga (journey) many years ago, all those whānau that have contributed to our Māori rugby league kaupapa, over the past 114 years.

“It is right that our tamariki mokopuna have an environment to aspire to and that they feel appreciated and valued for the next 114 years. For this historic occasion, we simply say thank you.”

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