INDEPENDENT NEWS

Recognition of Maori All Blacks long overdue

Published: Mon 9 Aug 1999 08:14 PM
Ex Maori All Black and Mana Motuhake Alliance candidate for Te Tai Tonga, Vern Winitana has joined the call for the professional recognition of the Maori All Blacks.
'Why is there a rugby league Maori team in the world cup which has equal status with all other international sides and not a rugby union team? When I was a Maori All Black in 1970-1971, I approached the New Zealand Rugby Union about this problem. We were furious then that our team always seemed to play 2nd fiddle to any other inter national team.
'We weren't getting the trips away or the overseas games, and the level of service to our players was sub-standard.
'It seems not much has changed. Today Maori All Blacks get only $50 a day, compared to other players on international sides who get $1000s.
'Back in 1971 we didn't even get $50. We had our petrol to the airport and home paid and about $5 a day for food.
'Some of the players in rural areas used to claim grazing costs! for their horse because they said, they rode to the airport! You had to get creative if you wanted to make ends meet.
'That was thirty years ago. It's a scandal when you think of the UK where England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland all have their own teams in the world cup. Why not Maori? If the British can get this right, surely we in New Zealand can too?
'I support the call from the Maori All Blacks coach, Matt Te Pou and captain Norm Hewitt, for full professional recognition of the Maori All Bl acks as an international team worthy of equal status.
'I call on the NZRFU to make an immediate statement of intent, that they are committed to doing something - finally - to give due recognition to the Maori All Blacks,' said Vern Winitana.
ENDS

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