Netball Manurewa to integrate Te Ao Māori

Netball Manurewa has initiated efforts to explore how the integration of Te Ao Māori knowledge and worldview could be integrated into the sporting and community organisation.

In late November, members of Netball Manurewa participated in a ‘design-challenge’ facilitated by the Oranga Whakapapa team from Healthy Families South Auckland (The Cause Collective), including Tracey-Lee Walker (Indigenous Māori Lead) and Phillipa Meihana (Systems Innovator).

The design challenge aimed to address the need for Te Ao Māori (te reo Māori, tikanga Māori and te Tiriti o Waitangi) to be incorporated into Netball Manurewa’s policies and practices.

“I’ve been involved at Netball Manurewa for approximately 20 years. It has been all about my whānau; they were here from when they were children to adults and now my grandchildren are playing here,” says Pat Maxwell, Netball Manurewa Chair.

“We have te reo signs, but we can use karakia and spoken language more; those are the things that we need to incorporate here to start our journey, and we will get better as we go.”

Established in 1976, Netball Manurewa is situated on Browns Road. Today, the netball club boasts an indoor court, 11 outdoor courts (including four courts under cover) and several rooms and facilities in the events centre. The club’s demographic makeup, much like the local area, has evolved over the years with an increased presence of Māori and Pacific people now residing there (at the 2018 Census, Manurewa Local Board area, had a total population of 96,000 people, including 26% Māori and 36% Pacific).

Te Ao Māori is a key pillar of Netball Manurewa’s Strategic Plan (2020-2023) aligning with the significant representation of Māori players, coaches, and supporters within the club. Lee Manaia, President of Netball Manurewa (2018 – present), recognises the importance of Te Ao Māori drawing from practice within her own family.

“At Netball Manurewa, we’re very lucky because its whānau-based, so its really family orientated. I like to see people involved, enjoying themselves and treating each other with respect when they come to our netball and events centre,” she says.

“Te Ao Maori is about the whole of the person. Your spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional sides – your whole wellbeing. If players, coaches, and supporters can bring all that to what we do to Netball Manurewa, it will have a good outcome for everyone.”

Helena Stevens (pictured below), a long-time player, coach, and administrator at the club expresses excitement about Netball Manurewa’s Te Ao Māori future.

“Tonight was a beautiful night. The design challenge was a unique way to share ideas amongst different people and a colourful way of showcasing our ideas for our club. It helped to cement and consolidate our thoughts and that we all want the same thing for Manurewa Netball,” says Stevens, who teaches at local Te Timatanga Kohanga Reo.

“It’s exciting for me, as a player, adult, mother, and a Kaiako (teacher) in kohanga reo (early childhood ‘language nest’). Te reo Māori for me is like my daily kai that I share among our tamariki (children). So, to have it in Netball helps to weave it all as part of our community,” she says.

Healthy Families South Auckland (The Cause Collective) and Netball Manurewa plan to reconvene early next year to further design the Te Ao Māori focus for the club before the 2024 season begins.

“It’s a privilege to assist Netball Manurewa in this work to initiate Te Ao Māori at their esteemed netball club which is a community hub for people from across the Manurewa area,” says Tracy-Lee Walker from Healthy Families South Auckland.

“Te Ao Māori has rich knowledge and practices that will add positive health and wellbeing value to local players, coaches, and supporters. These traditional practices and cultural frameworks have sustained whānau for generations and will help Netball Manurewa thrive today and into the future.”

If you are interested in being involved in the design of Te Ao Māori at Netball Manurewa, feel free to contact Tracey-Lee Walker, Indigenous Systems Lead at [email protected]