Māori sport organisations relieved by funding after years of waiting

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Māori sporting organisations are relieved that years of asking for some support has finally been recognised, and say this is a step in the right direction.

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The $7 million investment over four years will come out of a wider $265m Sport Recovery Package, which recognises the impact Covid-19 has had on the sector.

New Zealand Māori Golf Association patron Waihoroi Shortland said it was something Māori sporting organisations had been calling for and it was a good start.

“There isn’t a bigger golf tournament in the country than the Māori golf tournament. People are amazed at how we can run a tournament on the kinds of funding we create ourselves,” he said.

“You stretch seven million over four years, it’s always questionable what you can do. It’s a beginning, and sustaining it with Māori organisations, I think there’s many things we are yet to test, or how we apply the funding to grow the sport.”

Sport New Zealand chief executive Peter Miskimmin said the organisation had previously funded national sporting organisations with the belief that Māori organisations would benefit from that.

He said it now recognised that was not working.

“What we understand now and recognise [is] that they have a really valuable, culturally distinctive pathway and opportunity for us,” he said.

“This is an opportunity, as Covid has done for many things, to reset, re-think and we’ve done that piece of work now and we’re really pleased to be able to support them.”

He acknowledged it had been tough for Māori organisations, who had waited years for more support.

“I’m sure they have been frustrated by that. A lot of them have been trying to do what they need to do on their own, and we acknowledge that today,” he said.

“Māori represent an enormous amount of our elite athletes as well, and it’s a pathway we are really keen to explore, that culturally distinctive pathway.”

The funding will be spent on four initiatives including an expansion of the existing He Oranga Poutama Programme, which supports and advocates for Māori in sport.

The money will also help fund a new interactive app called MaraeFit, which will let whānau know about sporting events at marae in their area.

The app is still being developed, and will launch next year.

Sport New Zealand Māori adviser Moana-Lee Raihania said it was a step in the right direction.

“A significant moment just happened,” she said.

“It is a start, it’s not the end, and it’s the partnership, the relationships going forward that we are excited about.”

Final decisions about which Māori organisations will receive funding – and how much – is yet to be confirmed.

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