Ngarimu Blair (Ngati Whatua) and Merewaakana (Mere) Kingi (Ngati Awa) were elected as independent members to the New Zealand Maori Rugby Board (NZMRB) at its AGM last night, providing youthful rejuvenation to the Board said Maori Board Chair Dr. Farah Palmer.
Ngarimu Blair is currently a Trustee of Ngati Whatua Orakei Trust and Director of Ngati Whatua Orakei Whai Rawa Ltd. He has been a Director of the Auckland Waterfront Development Agency and is currently a Director of the MBIE Science Challenge.
He is a Board Member of the North Harbour Rugby Union, has played over 150 games of senior club rugby and coached the Helensville premier team from 2003-2007.
“I am honored to be elected as an independent member of the New Zealand Maori Rugby Board. I am looking forward to making a tangible contribution to the ongoing success of New Zealand rugby and its vital importance to the fabric of New Zealand communities and society,” said Ngarimu Blair.
“Maori are a cornerstone of Aotearoa-New Zealand and fundamental to the success of New Zealand rugby and I, along with my colleagues, will be guided by our whakatauki or proverb – Ehara take toa i te toa takitahi, Engari taku toa i te toa takitini – It is not through the strength of one, but of many, that we will succeed.”
Merewaakana Kingi is a chartered accountant with nearly 15 years of corporate and financial services experience. She is currently a senior manager at the BNZ and has previously worked for Morgan Stanley, the Royal Bank of Scotland and Barclays.
Kingi is also a former Black Fern, playing five games for New Zealand. She also played Sevens making the New Zealand Maori (2002) and the Auckland Sevens teams (1998-2002). She was also part of the New Zealand Touch Rugby team from 1996 until 2002
“I am inspired to make a difference to the health and wellbeing of Maori through this role. I am passionate about high-performance and growing the number of Maori playing rugby, especially women,” said Kingi.
“Being on the Maori Rugby Board is a great fit for me as it combines my passion for sport and rugby with the skills I have developed through my corporate career.
“I have a unique background as a former high-performance athlete and Black Fern, a chartered accountant, and also a single mother. I want to bring that different perspective to my work on the Board and hopefully inspire others to get involved in the governance and administration of our sport, the same way that Farah getting on the NZR board acted as a catalyst for me.”
Dr. Palmer said 2016 was a great year for Maori rugby.
“Maori were at the top of our game last year. The Maori All Blacks won two from three on their end of year tour matches, 14 All Blacks and 14 Black Ferns are Maori and we made up a big part of the silver medal-winning Black Ferns Sevens in Rio.
“It was great to see Maori player numbers increase to 40,077, up 2,401 players from the previous year. In addition, 30 percent of all women players are Maori.
“I am looking forward to the challenges ahead in the coming year and am pleased that there is youthful rejuvenation on our Maori Rugby Board.”