Since the advent of professional rugby, Māori have gained international visibility and attractiveness. The representation of the New Zealand rugby team revolves around their integration and the incorporation of their warrior tradition, suggesting a strong connection between rugby and contemporary Māori society. Rugby has indeed been the object of a process of indigenization, fulfilling goals of sociocultural continuity, political acknowledgment, and, in the professional era, upward social mobility. Nevertheless, rugby has also partly fulfilled its role as a tool of colonization in creating and sanctioning power differentials. Drawing on my ethnographic fieldwork in New Zealand, this article examines the relationship between Māori and rugby as a dialectic phenomenon that has resulted in the diversification of Māori experiences and perceptions of rugby and attests to the heterogeneity of Māori life experiences, aspirations, and formulations of indigeneity in contemporary society.


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pp. 389-408
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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