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Rugby taonga merits serious study
Jeremy Hapeta from the Massey’s School of Sport, Exercise and Dr Farah Palmer

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A team of 11 Māori academics including former Black Fern and NZ Rugby board member Farah Palmer has secured $250,000 from Māori research institute Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga to study the way Māori have handed down traditions, knowledge and specific treasures such as trophies through rugby.

Dr Palmer hopes the Manawa te taonga tuku iho study will boost understanding how mātauranga and tikanga Māori could be applied in sporting contexts.

Intellectual property rights, indigenous branding and indigenous wellbeing and prosperity may also be discussed.

The Massey University researcher hopes the study will help sport organisations like New Zealand Rugby and the New Zealand Olympic Committee develop policies and practices regarding how taonga tuku iho are used and protected in events, teams, and marketing contexts.

As well as rituals like the pre-match haka in rugby, other cultural artefacts have come into the game such as the pounamu mere presented to players who achieve 100 caps in the Super Rugby franchise, the taiaha presented to winning teams of non-test matches during the 2017 British and Irish Lions’ series, and the korowai presented to Lions’ captain Sam Warburton.

The study will bring together researchers and practitioners from different disciplines, including business, health, psychology, art and design, and areas of expertise such as rugby, toi Māori, matauranga Māori and technology.

The team includes Jeremy Hāpeta from the Massey’s School of Sport, Exercise and Nutrition Dr Carwyn Jones, (Victoria University), Dr Mohi Rua, (University of Waikato), Professor Te Kani Kingi, (Te Wānanga o Awanuiārangi) as principal and associate investigators respectively and advisors, Professor Meihana Durie, (Massey University), Dr Jason Mika, (Massey University), Dr Carl Bradley (previously Research Officer for Te Au Rangahau), Tamahou Temara, (Toi Māori), Luke Crawford, (Kaumatua and Cultural Advisor, New Zealand Rugby) and Malcolm Mulholland, (Massey University PhD student, Te Wānanga o Awanuiārangi).


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