"AOTEAROA" shirts to mark Waitangi Day

The BLACKCAPS and the WHITE FERNS will honour Waitangi Day by wearing AOTEAROA shirts in their T20I double-headers series against India.

The two teams will break out the te reo version of their uniforms in tomorrow’s opening double-header at Wellington’s Westpac Stadium, and retain them for the second and third matches – at Auckland on Friday and Hamilton on Sunday.

The BLACKCAPS previously wore AOTEAROA shirts during their 2015 ODI series in Zimbabwe in recognition of Māori Language Week – but this will be the first time the WHITE FERNS have donned the strip.

NZC chief executive David White said while the change in name for the series was a one-off activity created specifically to support New Zealand’s national day – it was also part of his organisation’s overall push to better connect with Māori.

“NZC wants to extend cricket’s reach and make it more welcoming to communities not always closely aligned with the game,” said Mr White.

“It’s something we haven’t done particularly well in the past,” he said. “We were too one-dimensional in our approach and especially in regard to addressing under-representation in certain communities.

“But we have to start somewhere.”

As part of this focus, NZC last year launched a range of modified playing programmes designed to better suit the needs of participants in a time-poor world, particularly in terms of duration, access and cost.

Another step has been the creation of an annual New Zealand Māori Secondary Schoolboys team, which will play its inaugural match against a Governor General’s XI in Wellington on March 7.

Players will be selected from a nationwide spread of schools; will be hosted at a marae in Island Bay, and will receive specialist assistance from NZC’s high performance coaches while also interacting with BLACKCAPS.

“Cricket is a wonderful game that anyone can play, irrespective of age, gender, ethnicity or religion,” said Mr White.

“We just need to make sure everyone feels it's accessible and welcoming – which is part of the reason for reaching out this week.”