The first Aotearoa Māori Women’s cricket team is set to contest the Pacific Cup tournament, to be held in Tamaki Makaurau Auckland in January.
The squad, selected by New Zealand Cricket, will be the first senior New Zealand Māori cricket team to compete since an Aotearoa Māori men’s team was selected to take part in the Pacifica Cup back in 2001.
The team will be led by former WHITE FERNS captain Maia Lewis (Ngāti Whātua, Ngāti Māniapoto) who has been appointed as Head Coach for the tournament.
Lewis, who represented the WHITE FERNS 88 times across all three formats, said she was looking forward to leading the inaugural team.
“This opportunity is a welcome extension to the pathway for Māori cricketers,” said Lewis.
“We have seen great success in NZC’s Aotearoa Māori Secondary Schools programme, and the recent Wāhine Māori National Tournament held in Hastings - and the Pacific Cup is another opportunity to showcase some of our best Māori wāhine players.
“We saw plenty of talent on display at the Wāhine Māori Nationals and I’m excited to get the squad together in January and connect not only through cricket but through culture and hauora.
“We are creating a legacy and a pathway for Māori wāhine cricketers for the future.“
NZC Diversity and Inclusion Lead, Andrew Tara, said NZC was committed to improving engagement with Māori and Pasifika.
“Off the back the inaugural wāhine nationals in Hastings last month, we’re delighted to be able to continue offering opportunities for Māori cricketers,” he said.
“Building capability on and off the field and supporting the development of cricket in the Pacific has been a key driver in our commitment to hosting this tournament.”
Lloyd Elsmore Park will play host to five East Asia Pacific Nations: Cook Islands, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Vanuatu, as well as Aotearoa Māori.
Teams will all play one another through pool play, culminating in a Grand Final on Sunday, January 21, on Eden Park’s Outer Oval.
The 2024 Pacific Cup will also represent an opportunity for nations to build capability around cricket - with coach, umpire, and player development sessions planned for attendees.
Former BLACKCAPS batsman Ross Taylor, a keen advocate for cricket in the Pacific, said the tournament was a chance to continue the growth of cricket interest in the Pasifika community.
“This tournament represents a great opportunity for Pacific cricketers to play against strong opposition, and in turn gain valuable experience,” said Taylor.
“I’m excited to see the Pacific nations taking the game head on, learning both on and off-field, and most importantly enjoying themselves.
“I would encourage the local Pacific community to get out and enjoy the action.”
The tournament will be officially opened with a pōwhiri on Tuesday 16th January.
Māori and Pacific cultures will be on full show at the cultural evening on Saturday 20th January at the University of Auckland - Fale Pasifika.
Matches on Lloyd Elsmore number one will be livestreamed using a three-camera setup with full commentary, replays, graphics, and more. All matches will be live scored on nzc.nz and PlayHQ.
PACIFIC CUP SCHEDULE
Wednesday 17 January
Aotearoa Māori v Papua New Guinea, Lloyd Elsmore Park 1, 10:30am
Cook Islands v Samoa, Lloyd Elsmore Park 2, 10:30am
Fiji v Vanuatu, Lloyd Elsmore Park 3, 10:30am
Cook Islands v Fiji, Lloyd Elsmore Park 1, 3:00pm
Aotearoa Māori v Vanuatu, Lloyd Elsmore Park 2, 3:00pm
Samoa v Papua New Guinea, Lloyd Elsmore Park 3, 3:00pm
Thursday 18 January
Vanuatu v Samoa, Lloyd Elsmore Park 1, 3:00pm
Papua New Guinea v Cook Islands, Lloyd Elsmore Park 2, 3:00pm
Aotearoa Māori v Fiji, Lloyd Elsmore Park 3, 3:00pm
Friday 19 January
Papua New Guinea v Vanuatu, Lloyd Elsmore Park 1, 10:30am
Fiji v Samoa, Lloyd Elsmore Park 2, 10:30am
Aotearoa Māori v Cook Islands, Lloyd Elsmore Park 3, 10:30am
Cook Islands v Vanuatu, Lloyd Elsmore Park 1, 3:00pm
Samoa v Aotearoa Māori, Lloyd Elsmore Park 2, 3:00pm
Papua New Guinea v Fiji, Lloyd Elsmore Park 3, 3:00pm
Sunday 21 January
3rd v 4th playoff, Lloyd Elsmore Park 1, 10:30am
5th v 6th playoff, Lloyd Elsmore Park 2, 10:30am
Grand final (1st v 2nd), TBC, 3:00pm