21 Feb 2012

Sharples says Maori presence at RWC has paid off

7:32 am on 21 February 2012

Maori Affairs Minister Dr Pita Sharples says he pushed to have a Maori presence at the Rugby World Cup because tangata whenua did not even get a look in during the America's Cup in 2000.

The Government estimates visitors to Waka Maori contributed $9 million to the Auckland economy during the event and attracted over 180,000 visitors.

Dr Sharples says the feedback he has received is that people around the world, including the tourists, were very impressed with the Maori face during the tournament.

He says Te Puni Kokiri's determination to include Maori culture paid off.

Dr Sharples says his enthusiasm for Waka Maori and other ventures was ignited when the America's Cup came to New Zealand 12 years ago.

At the time, he says, he made several approaches to have Maori on site but his group was not even given an interview.

Dr Sharples says in the end the Maori Development Ministry's hard work shone through and the results speak for themselves.