The Vodafone Warriors will acknowledge New Zealand’s indigenous Māori people when they meet the Penrith Panthers in the NRL’s Indigenous Round at Pepper Stadium on Saturday (3.00pm kick-off NZT, 5.00pm NZT).

While the club doesn’t have a special indigenous jersey, the Vodafone Warriors honour the country’s tangata whenua every time they play with both their home and away kits, which incorporate a koru design.

They’ll be in their white away strip for this week’s 10th-round contest.

The club will also present a cultural gift to Penrith, a pounamu (greenstone) hei matau (fish hook).

The Vodafone Warriors’ koru-flavoured playing kits were created by Māori artist and designer Dave Burke, a long-time collaborator with the club’s official apparel sponsor Canterbury of New Zealand. He brings intricate design qualities and a strong cultural background to his work.

  • Vodafone Warriors playing kit:
  • The koru in the 2017 design is all about growth.
  • It symbolises the early stages of a new unfurling fern frond.
  • As the koru grows, it becomes stronger and stronger as it reaches upward towards the light.
  • The koru also represents nurturing, care and protection as well as symbolising peace, positive change, personal growth and hope for the future.
  • It embodies one’s spirituality and working together in harmony.
  • Hei matau (fish hook)
  • The fish hook was an important resource for Māori as the sea provided a rich source of food. In Māori mythology, New Zealand was fished up out of the sea by Maui.
  • The fish hook signifies abundance, strength and determination. It is believed to bring peace, prosperity and good health.
  • It is a device for catching good luck and energy and is believed to provide a safe journey over water.
  • The hei matau being gifted to Penrith is carved from pounamu (greenstone) and comes from the West Coast of the South Island. This type of pounamu is called kawakawa.
  • Pounamu is a much-treasured taonga to Māori, something to be held in high esteem and, when given, it is a mark of respect, love and friendship.
  • This hei matau was carved by John Burke. It has been blessed by kaumatua (elder) Luke Crawford, who also played a huge role in bringing to life the Vodafone Warriors’ pounamu jersey in 2013.

In the lead-up to the Indigenous Round, the NRL asked all clubs to profile a significant indigenous person to celebrate and recognise the unique relationship between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and rugby league.

The Vodafone Warriors have highlighted New Zealand’s tangata whenua by nominating Māori Issac Luke, who has been learning te reo (Māori language) since returning home from Sydney.

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