As the 2024 NRL Indigenous Round unfolds this weekend, Flashback Friday revisits the historic selection of Canterbury duo Pat White and Mita Mohi for New Zealand Māori in 1962.

Māori rugby league boasts a rich history dating back to 1908, when a squad made a historic tour of Australia – playing their first match just two days after the last game of the New Zealand ‘All Golds’’ pioneering trip.

But for more than half a century, New Zealand Māori teams were the domain of North Island-based players. Test halfback Keith Roberts, who started with Marist before moving to Papanui, was selected for the 1956 tour of Australia but had to withdraw due to injury.

Addington winger White and Marist-Western Suburbs forward Mohi became the first South Islanders to represent the Māori side when they were selected to face the ’62 Lions.


Great Britain arrived in New Zealand after winning a memorable Ashes series in Australia and was too strong for the Māori at Wellington’s Basin Reserve.

White and Mohi lined up with the likes of Kiwis greats Roger Bailey and Sam Edwards, but a Lions side led by Derek Turner and featuring champions of the era such as Neil Fox, Eric Fraser, Ike Southward and Jack Wilkinson prevailed 38-5 after leading 8-0 at halftime.

The Lions would lose both Tests to New Zealand, however.

White went on to earn a Kiwis call-up in 1964, playing all three Tests in a cleansweep of France and touring Britain and France with the national team in 1965.

Mohi, a 42-time Canterbury rep, would have to wait until 1972 to represent New Zealand, selected for the World Cup in France after making his second appearance for New Zealand Māori in a 41-8 thrashing of Auckland. The revered front-rower played his sole Test against France in Marseille at the age of 33.


The floodgates did not exactly swing open for Canterbury-based Māori players after the breakthrough made by White and Mohi. Papanui three-quarter Eddie Kerrigan was the next representative, playing for New Zealand Māori against the 1974 Lions while also featuring in all three Tests for the Kiwis against Great Britain.

Pōmare Connell and Russell Tuuta played for New Zealand Māori against Auckland in 1983, while Tuuta scored two tries in a 56-32 win over the touring Papua New Guinea team at Carlaw Park and was part of the squad that toured Britain later that year. Andrew Vincent and Brendon Tuuta withdrew from the 1986 Pacific Cup squad after winning selection.

Russell Tuuta would represent New Zealand Māori again on an internal tour in 1989.

A squad featuring Quentin Pongia, Whetu Taewa, Shane Ngātaki and Justin Wallace played matches in Nelson and Greymouth during a 1992 internal tour, with Pongia subsequently representing the Māori against a visiting Queensland Residents team.

Vincent, Phil Bergman and Kevin Te Hau were part of a team that defeated Otago in 1993.

Kiwi rep Blair Harding, Tāne Manihera, Jason Duff and Te Hira Niha became the first Canterbury players to represent New Zealand Māori at a Pacific Cup tournament, making the trip to Suva in 1994.

Harding, Manihera and Ricky Henry were part of the team that embarked on an internal tour in 1995. Henry scored two tries in a 40-14 win over Papua New Guinea and partnered Taewa in the centres as New Zealand Māori stunned Great Britain 40-28 during a memorable 1996 program.

Former Test winger Jason Williams, who had just finished his last season in the Australian premiership with Penrith, was part of the team that ventured to Papua New Guinea for a tournament also involving Tonga and Cook Islands in 1998, and Graeme Emslie toured Papua New Guinea with the Māori the following season.

Aotearoa Māori’s historic 2000 World Cup campaign included Canterbury-bred Kiwis Terry Hermansson and David Kidwell.

Eddie Hei Hei was part of the New Zealand Māori team that faced Tonga in 2002, while Canterbury Bulls reps Charlie Herekōtukutuku and Vince Whare earned selection in the 2004 Pacific Cup squad, co-coached by Hermansson.

Kaine Manihera and Ross Turi represented against Cook Islands in 2005, and Jonny Limmer starred during New Zealand Māori’s 2006 Pacific Cup campaign in Auckland.

In a precursor to the current All Stars concept, a Māori team played an Indigenous Dreamtime Team in a curtain-raiser to the 2008 World Cup opener in Sydney. Herekōtukutuku, then with North Sydney, was part of the Māori side.

New Zealand Māori’s last match against an international team was an 18-all draw against Great Britain at Mt Smart Stadium during the 2010 Four Nations. Kaine Manihera played on the wing, while ex-Riccarton and Canterbury Bulls prodigy Lewis Brown came off the bench at the end of his second NRL season with the Warriors.

Rulon Nutira became one of Canterbury’s more enduring New Zealand Māori representatives, playing against Murri in a two-game series in 2013, against Queensland Māori and Murri in 2014, and in the NRL Festival of Indigenous Rugby League in 2018.

The Māori All Stars’ teams that have faced Indigenous All Stars annually since 2019 have included former Canterbury juniors Sheldon Pitama, Jordan Riki, Kodi and Jayden Nikorima, and Jazz Tevaga.

Former Canterbury age-group and Papanui player Tahi Baggaley played for the Aotearoa NZ Māori Tāne team that played Auckland in November to mark the 30th Anniversary of the Tuakana Tournaments.

2024-05-24 05_36_29-MITA MOHI - KIWI #501 - Canterbury Rugby League – Home to the Canterbury Bulls
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