NRL All Stars match massive opportunity for Rotorua

Publish Date
Monday, 4 July 2022, 10:45PM

Hosting a match ranked third in the line-up of the NRL stable is a "wonderful opportunity" and a "significant event", Rotorua leaders say.

Rotorua will create history by hosting the NRL's Indigenous All Stars vs Māori All Stars games in 2023, the first time the games have been held in New Zealand.

The contest, to be played at Rotorua International Stadium and featuring men's and women's encounters, will land on New Zealand shores for the 12th All Stars fixture – and the fifth between the Māori All Stars and the Indigenous All Stars.

The announcement was made this morning by NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo, alongside Rotorua Lakes Council, Te Arawa, and Indigenous Australia representatives at Te Puia.

The economic impact from the match is expected to generate around $4 million in revenue, and will attract both national and international visitors to Rotorua, the council said in a statement today.

New Zealand Māori Rugby League chairman, John Devonshire said this was the highest echelon for Māori sport to aspire to.

"It's a great opportunity for us as Māori, for Te Arawa and Rotorua as hau kainga and tangata whenua. We want to give the Indigenous team an opportunity to enjoy our culture. It's a community effort, and we want to invite the whole community, and what better place in Aotearoa to do it.

"Rotorua has become the destination of choice for a number of reasons – geographically for its location, we have great relationships with the people, and the facilities are second to none.

We are so unbelievably grateful for what Rotorua Lakes Council are doing to host this game at Rotorua International Stadium," he said.

Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick said this was a significant event for New Zealand and Rotorua.

"This is more than just a game, this is about celebrating our culture, and we feel privileged that Rotorua will be the first place to host the NRL All Stars games in Aotearoa, New Zealand.

"We welcome national and international manuhiri with open arms, to share in the excitement that these games will bring."

Te Arawa's Sir Toby Curtis said it was a wonderful opportunity for Rotorua.

"I think when it comes to having international relations, especially for Māori, it is ideal that Rotorua be seen as a centre for Māori Rugby League.

"We are at a stage where people are starting to visit our shores again. We've got to become more internationally conscious because the future relies on how we relate to the rest of the world – not just Aotearoa, New Zealand."

NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo said the event would benefit communities in the Rotorua region and more broadly in New Zealand.

"All Stars brings communities and culture together perhaps like no other week in our calendar. Knowing how important Māori culture is to Rotorua, we are excited to work with the community on becoming the first Aotearoa, New Zealand location to host the event," Mr Abdo said.

"The 2023 All Stars game will coincide with the 50-year anniversary of the first Indigenous Rugby League tour of New Zealand, and will also be 50 years since Arthur Beetson became the first Indigenous athlete to captain Australia."

This is the first time the Harvey Norman Rugby League All Stars game has been played outside of Australia. The annual rugby league football match has been played since 2010, at a variety of venues across Australia.

Coverage of the games will be broadcast to 110 countries worldwide across SKY New Zealand, Nine Network, Fox League, and on NRL Live Pass.

The NRL Rugby League All Stars game is ranked third in the line-up of NRL stable, with State of Origin and NRL Grand Final ahead.

The 2023 NRL Harvey Norman All Stars will feature both women's and men's Indigenous and Māori teams. Tickets will be on sale later this year.

This article was first published on nzherald.co.nz and is republished here with permission