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Sports

Cooks national cricket squad play Auckland’s first all- Māori team

Monday 5 September 2022 | Written by CI News Staff | Published in Cricket, Sports

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Cooks national cricket squad play Auckland’s first all- Māori team
The full Cook Islands national cricket squad in Auckland. - 22090415

The Cook Islands national squad played Auckland’s first all-Māori cricket team in the weekend.

The national squad had three practice matches against the Auckland team at Macleans College in preparation for the East Asia Pacific Sub-Regional Qualifying Tournament in Vanuatu.

Although the national squad lost all the games, team manager Rahul Patil said his side did a lot of experimenting.

Patil also said he preferred the team make the mistakes in the practice games than in the tournament.

However, two of the games were very tight. In the first match the national squad fell short by about 15 runs and in the third, the squad dominated the first 16 overs but did not make the last required 30 runs in the four overs.

After the games on Saturday, both teams had dinner together and watched the All Blacks rugby match against Argentina.

“It’s good to see whether you are a Cook Islander or New Zealand Māori everyone supports the All Blacks,” Patil said.

Yesterday the team practiced in the nets.

Half of the squad were based in New Zealand and the other half were based in the Cook Islands before they met on Friday in Auckland.

“The comradery is growing and everyone is backing each other,” Patil said.

Auckland’s first all-Māori team was named Tāmaki Makaurau. The team is run by Auckland Māori Cricket, a group set up earlier this year to encourage, highlight and influence Māori cricket in Auckland.

The group was a brainchild of Auckland Māori Cricket co-ordinator Michael Tillett and NZ Cricket Kaihautū Māori lead Andrew Tara.

Prior to the game Tillett said: “There has never been a space for Māori to play cricket in Auckland. There was a national side in 2001 but never provincial for Auckland.”

“Andrew [Tara] approached me to organise a team for the fixtures against the Cook Islands, I just contacted all the guys that I knew of that had Māori whakapapa.

“I was hoping to get half the team as Māori, it turned out we got 12 [a full team] very easily with very talented players,” he said.

The ages of the squad members ranged from 17 to 40, with players entering the team from provincial and university clubs across Tāmaki Makaurau, as well as domestic teams like the Auckland Aces.

“We are representing our iwi and hapū, but we’re mostly representing Māori in general,” he said

Tillett said he hoped the game and the group would encourage more Māori into the world of cricket.

“The purpose behind this is two-pronged: I really would like to see more Māori playing the game. Hopefully by showcasing the talent that we have shows that there is a pathway for Māori to get into cricket and to play high-level,” he said.

“Also, some of the players we have aren’t in touch with their whakapapa... the other side of things is how can we give them an exposure and understanding of te ao Māori and tikanga Māori as well.”