A blog site for the anthology, A Tingling Catch: A Century of New Zealand Cricket Poems 1864-2009 edited by Mark Pirie; foreword by Don Neely (HeadworX Publishers, Wellington, New Zealand, 2010). The blog features reviews and commentary on the book as well as New Zealand cricket poetry, reviews of New Zealand cricket books and other related material. The book's cover is by UK cricket painter Jocelyn Galsworthy.
Saturday, November 6, 2010
Māori cricket in New Zealand
Little has been known about Māori cricket teams in New Zealand. In Australia, however, a famous Aboriginal team, the ‘All Blacks’, toured England in the 1860s. A poem about them appeared in Leslie Frewin’s The Poetry of Cricket anthology (1964) and the scorecards for their matches are on the English Cricket Archive website (http://cricketarchive.com/). Here’s the anonymous poem about the ‘All Blacks’:
Aboriginal Cricketers of 1868 – The “All Blacks”
To Britain they came from the land of the South
As strangers for honour and glory,
And now as true heroes intrepid and bold
Will their names be recorded in story.
For not with the sword did they covet renown,
The battle they fought was at cricket,
In lieu of grim weapons of warfare they strove
With the bat and the ball at the wicket.
A further poem on the ‘All Blacks’ tour is by Rikki Shields and is anthologised in ‘A Breathless Hush’: The MCC Anthology of Cricket Verse (2004). Shields' poem, ‘The Last Over’, is written in memory of King Cole, ‘an Aboriginal cricketer who died on 24 June 1868’. It also names the other players in the team: ‘SUGAR, NEDDY, JELLICO, COUSINS, MULLAGH, BULLOCKY, TARPOT, SUNDOWN, OFFICER, PETER and CAPTAIN.’
Was there anything similar in New Zealand? I don’t think so - but recently I came across a photo of a Māori cricket team (Prefects Cricket XI, Te Aute College, Hawke’s Bay, 1880). It was published on the cover of the New Zealand Cricket Museum Newsletter, Summer/Autumn Newsletter 2009-10, by curator David Mealing. David tells me he discovered the photo in the Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington (Ref No. ½-061582-F).
Prefects Cricket XI, Te Aute College, Hawke's Bay, 1880
Further to this, in 2009 I wrote and published a poem in Landfall 219 about Māori cricket. The poem compares New Zealand to other countries where cricket flourished and notes that the sport was never as popular with Māori in New Zealand to the same extent as it was in India and elsewhere. Here’s the Landfall poem of mine:
The discovery of the Te Aute College photo by David suggests there were Māori cricket teams active in New Zealand schools, if not at a national level. The full extent of Māori participation remains unknown but Adam Parore, the most well known Māori cricket player, played Test cricket for New Zealand. Parore, one of our best wicket keepers, remains the first Māori cricketer to make a Test hundred as poet Michael O’Leary has observed: “PARORE / Awha, nearly made a century, tipuna of Adam, first Māori to do so’.
Sources:New Zealand Cricket Museum Newsletter, Summer-Autumn 2009-10; A Corner of a Foreign Field by Ramachandra Guha (Picador: London, 2002); Leslie Frewin’s The Poetry of Cricket (Macdonald: London, 1964); Hubert Doggart and David Rayvern Allen’s ‘A Breathless Hush…’: The MCC Anthology of Cricket Verse (Methuen: London, 2004); the online Cricket Archive; Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington; Landfall 219 (Dunedin: Otago University Press, 2009); and Michael O’Leary ‘WAIATA: a chant…’ in David McGill’s The G’Day Country Redux (Paekakariki: Silver Owl Press, 2009).