maori sport

Events In History


Natives' Rugby Tour, 1888-89

  • Natives' Rugby Tour, 1888-89

    The title of 'The Originals' was bestowed on the next New Zealand rugby team to tour Britain, that of 1905-6, but even though it was soon forgotten, the Natives' tour was to have enduring significance for New Zealand rugby and society.

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  • Page 2 – Rugby in 1888

    The rugby played by the Natives was different from the game we know today.

  • Page 3 – Maori and rugby

    In 1872, 'Wirihana' became the first recorded Maori rugby player when he turned out for Wanganui

  • Page 4 – Preparations

    In the absence of any body regulating the game in New Zealand, Eyton was free to promote a tour of Britain as a private venture

  • Page 5 – The 'Noble Maori' arrive

    After playing nine matches in New Zealand and two in Melbourne in the southern winter of 1888 (with only two losses), the Natives set off for Britain by steamer.

  • Page 6 – Daily routines

    Between their first and last matches in Britain, the Natives played on average every 2.3 days.

  • Page 7 – Unsporting behaviour?

    Although hacking and tripping had been banned in the 1870s to make the game safe enough to appeal to gentlemen, rugby remained dangerous.

  • Page 8 – Natives and northerners

    In 1888 the gentlemen who ran the Rugby Union (and the Empire) were based in southern England, and the England test was played in London. Yet the playing strength of the

  • Page 9 – Rugby and society

    What effect did the Natives' tour have on rugby and wider New Zealand society? It showed that New Zealanders could compete on equal terms with representatives of the imperial

  • Page 10 – Matches played

    Games and scores Total (rugby games only): played 107: won 78, drew 6, lost 23 Points for: 772; Points against: 305 In Britain: played 74: W49, D5, L20 Points for: 394; Points

  • Page 11 – Further information

    This web feature was written by David Green and produced by the team. Books

Māori rugby timeline

  • Māori rugby timeline

    This timeline covers some of the key events and major players in the history of Māori rugby. It was compiled to mark the centenary of the first official New Zealand Māori team.

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  • Page 2 – Further information

    Links and books for further reading about Maori rugby

1981 Springbok tour

  • 1981 Springbok tour

    For 56 days in July, August and September 1981, New Zealanders were divided against each other in the largest civil disturbance seen since the 1951 waterfront dispute. The cause of this was the visit of the South African rugby team – the Springboks.

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  • Page 3 - Politics and sportSouth Africa's apartheid policies and attitudes created obvious problems for New Zealand rugby, given the prominence of Māori in the


  • Ellison, Thomas Rangiwahia

    Tom Ellison was captain of NZ's first official rugby team in 1893. He invented the wing forward position and in 1903 wrote one of the game's first coaching manuals.

  • Nēpia, George

    George Nēpia is considered to be one of New Zealand rugby’s finest players. He played all 32 matches for the famous 1924-25 ‘Invincibles’ on their tour of the British Isles, France and Canada.

  • Asher, Albert

    Albert Asher was a dual international rugby union and rugby league player.

  • Asher, Ernest Te Kepa

    Ernie Asher was a prominent Māori rugby league player and sports administrator