Rotorua Weekender

Rotorua to host NRL All Stars fixture

Māori v Indigenous games first for NZ


Rotorua will host the NRL AllStars: Māori v Indigenous games on February 11 - the first time the games have been held in Aotearoa New Zealand. The 2023 Harvey Norman sponsored contest, to be played at Rotorua Internatio­nal Stadium and featuring men’s and women’s encounters, will land on New Zealand shores for the 12th All Stars fixture – and the fifth between the Māori All Stars and the Indigenous All Stars.

NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo said the event would benefit communitie­s in the Rotorua region and more broadly in New Zealand.

“All Stars brings communitie­s and culture together perhaps like no other week in our calendar. Knowing how important Rotorua is to Māori culture, we are excited to work with the community on becoming the first Aotearoa New Zealand location to host the event,” Abdo said.

“The 2023 All Stars game will coincide with the 50-year anniversar­y of the first Indigenous Rugby League tour of New Zealand, and will also be 50 years since Arthur Beetson became the first Indigenous athlete to captain Australia.”

New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) chief executive Greg Peters said the clash was monumental for the sport and to see the world’s best represent their people and connect cultures through rugby league was truly special.

“NZMRL tournament­s attract thousands each year, so it’s only right for the Māori All Stars to play host and perform in front of whānau, friends and their rugby league communitie­s.”

The Indigenous All Stars have been playing other All Stars teams annually since 2010 and the game against the Māori All Stars in Rotorua will be the first time these marquee games have been played outside Australia.

Rotorua mayor Tania Tapsell believed the event would inspire youth to get involved in the game locally as they get to see their league favourites on the field.

“These games are a significan­t event for Aotearoa and Rotorua is well-known for representi­ng Māori culture in a way that is truly authentic. We can’t wait to welcome manuhiri (visitors) again.”

The match is expected to generate around $4 million in revenue, attracting both national and internatio­nal visitors with teams and support staff in Rotorua for five nights participat­ing in training and engagement events across the city.

Te Arawa and Ngāti Whakaue leader Monty Morrison said Rotorua secured the rights to host as the bid focused on genuine manaakitan­ga (hospitalit­y) while also being the best venue for an indigenous cultural exchange experience.

“The teams already have a special connection and Te Arawa cannot wait to welcome them – this is a wonderful opportunit­y to host an internatio­nal game in Rotorua.”

Tickets will be sold via Ticketmast­er. The Rotorua Nui Pre Sale starts Monday, November 21 at 10am, and the general public sales on Thursday, November 24 at 10am.

 ?? Photo / Supplied ?? Indigenous All Stars, 2022.
Photo / Supplied Indigenous All Stars, 2022.

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