NRL slammed for butchering Māori names during All-Star clash

NRL commentators' pronunciation of Māori and Pasifika names is again in the spotlight for the wrong reasons, following last week's All-Star clashes against the Indigenous All-Star men's and women's teams.

Kalyn Ponga. Source: Photosport

Having previously come under fire for poor attempted pronunciation of Māori and Pasifika names, last Friday's clashes were another night to forget, with New Zealand Māori Rugby League lifetime member Hemana Waaka horrified by what he heard.

"The pronunciation was horrible and really disrespected the beauty of their names," he told TVNZ 1's Te Karere.

The NRL does provide phonetic listings of players' names to commentators and broadcasters, however Waaka says that a more proactive approach needs to be taken to ensure the correct pronunciation for players in the future. 

"They aren't at fault. None of them came to ask to seek our advice on pronouncing the names," Waaka continued.

"So this is a challenge to the NRL that for games at this level of rugby they need to provide space, perhaps an extra two chairs so we can commentate on the game in te reo."

With the Māori All-Stars concept appearing set to stay due to the immense success of last week's matches, Waaka is also calling for the New Zealand government to match the contribution of our Australian counterparts, investing in a pathway for indigenous players to break through.

"The NRL needs to give accreditation so that we're on the same footing as indigenous Australians in competitions moving forward."

With Māori and Indigenous representation becoming more and more prominent across rugby league, it's hoped that one day both sides will be able to compete at a Rugby League World Cup as standalone outfits.