The Vodafone Warriors’ home base will be known as Rarotonga Mount Smart Stadium this week to mark the club’s NRL Indigenous Round encounter with the Brisbane Broncos on Saturday (7.30pm kick-off).
Rarotonga – which means “the lower south” – was the volcanic cone’s original Maori name when it housed a terraced defensive pa before European settlers arrived.
Its temporary name change coincides with the NRL’s special annual round which celebrates New Zealand’s Maori people, Indigenous Australians and Torres Strait Islanders. As well as being on the large stadium billboards and on electronic gate signage, the historic name will also be in Vodafone Warriors ads leading up to this weekend’s match.
European settlers changed Rarotonga’s name to Mt Smart after Henry Dalton Smart, a lieutenant in the New Zealand Mounted Police in the 1840s. The volcano once stood 86 metres high but, from 1880, the scoria cone was removed and the site became a large quarry before becoming a stadium in 1967.
In the 2014 Treaty of Waitangi settlement with the Tamaki Makaurau Collective of 13 Auckland iwi, the volcano was officially named Rarotonga/Mount Smart.
Auckland Stadiums and the Vodafone Warriors worked together on the name change initiative, sharing a common goal to showcase the history of the stadium, and the long-term positive working relationship between the two organisations.
Vodafone Warriors CEO Cameron George said the decision to rename the stadium for the Indigenous Round is a way to celebrate the important cultural history of the club’s home.
“Reverting to the original name of Rarotonga Mt Smart, with its depth of meaning and cultural significance for Aucklanders and New Zealanders, is another way that we can celebrate Maori culture and its importance to the club,” he said.
“Several players at the club are Maori so, being able to have a round which specifically celebrates them, is great.
“I know the players are really looking forward to the clash against the Broncos, playing in our special Indigenous Round jerseys and doing our fans proud,” he said.