With just over 100 days until the RWC 2021 (played in 2022), and having witnessed the Pacific Four series - like a teaser for what's to come for Woman’s Rugby - I think it’s safe to say you won’t want to miss a match.
Don’t get FOMO and kick yourself. You have to be a part of history, championing our wahine all th way to the finish line.
Would you believe that our National Women's Rugby team didn't officially have a team name until 1991? They might have been called the 'She-wi's’ after their team mascot was a kiwi, luckily, Dr Farrah Palmer & the team went ahead with the latter.
I sat at the squad announcement for the Black Ferns in awe of the history I was learning. Footage and snapshots of women in black and white, as far back as 1989, tackling, sliding through the mud, and holding up trophies.
I witnessed the passion, the pride, the awareness, knowing that they have a chance to inspire & unify a nation, paving the way for our future wahine.
They weren't officially called the Black Ferns until 1998.
Our Black Ferns Nga Mamaku o Aotearoa - 'Black' because of the colour of the jersey and the playing colour of the majority of our national sports teams. 'Fern' Because this was the term associated with female sports teams in New Zealand.
They preferred 'Black Ferns' over the 'Gal Blacks' or 'Lady Blacks' - that's what they were being referred to by journalists around the world when they were winning title after title.
As a matter of fact, our Black Ferns - Nga Mamaku, have won more titles than our All Blacks!
The Black Ferns are the most dominant team in women's rugby, with Women's Rugby World Cup titles in 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010, and 2017.
They have one of the best winning percentages in international rugby, with victory in close to 90 per cent of their Tests.
This year, 8th October, on home soil at Eden Park, it will be the start of that 6th title Journey for the WRWC ‘21/’22.
I wandered through ‘The All-Black Experience’ (located at the SkyCity entertainment precinct). I got goosebumps wandering the halls and reading the 'Nga Mamaku o Aotearoa - Black Ferns' wall, the koru joining and weaving past and present players #68 Dr Farrah Palmer, #69 Melody Robinson, #172 Portia Woodman, Former Black Ferns Captain #188 Leslie Ketu-Elder.
This whakatauki is printed on the wall before walking into a dark, curved room:
"Mate atu he tetekura, ara mai he tetekura"
"As one fern frond dies, another rises to take its place."
Proud is an understatement - if you ever wanted to know or experience the wrath of a haka done by our wahine - this was the time and place to feel your eyes well up and your stomach drop.
Our Black Ferns walk onto the screen and go into formation - The Black Ferns haka - 'Ko Uhia Mai' echoes out of the speakers like you're actually there, standing right in front of the players!
"A uhia mai, ko wai nga hine? Ko Nga Mamaku e ngunguru nei."
"Let it be known, who are these women? It's the Black Ferns rumble."
I am honoured to be a RWC 21/22 champion, to champion wahine in rugby, wahine in sport!
I’m filled with such pride when I see Nga Mamaku/Black Ferns, especially because my daughters will get to witness our wahine fight for that 6th title!
They have such kaha, strength, courage, mana, and grace - these are the qualities that I want for my daughters.
For my friends and wahine ma, all around the world!
It says a lot about the woman who can stick on the black jersey, tie their hair back and lay down a fierce challenge head-on with their opponent, only to be embraced, uplifted and smile from ear to ear.
Just like the words of the waiata-ā-ringa ‘ngā Mamaku Aotearoa’ composed by Pānia Papa in 2002 for the Black ferns:
"Tū mai rā I tō mana e hine!
Tēnei ahau (hī!) e ngunguru nei,
(ko ngā mamaku e ngunguru nei ...)"
"Stand tall and with pride, women!
This is me, my pride rumbles
(the Black ferns rumble...)"
I stand tall and with pride with our wahine Nga Mamaku Aotearoa.
‘Me aro ki te ha o Hine - ahu- one.’
Pay heed to the mana of a woman.
Especially the ones in the Black Ferns jersey!