Moana Pasifika began a historic night with a unique challenge combining aspects of Samoan, Tongan and Fijiian culture, before the New Zealand Māori side won the match 28-21 in Hamilton.
In its first game, the Pasifika side unfurled a cultural challenge featuring Samoan siva tau, Tonga’s sipi tau, and the Fijian cibi.
The New Zealand Māori replied with their haka to complete the special pre-game cultural showdown.
The game did live up to the superb pre-game cultural showcase, with the Māori prevailing four tries to two.
After two early penalties to Josh Ioane, Māori fullback Kaleb Trask scored the first try after breaking through some rather flimsy Moana Pasifika defence.
Moana Pasifika would take a 9-7 lead into the break though with Ioane kicking a third penalty.
The NZ Māori forward pack began to exert its dominance in the second half with captain Ash Dixon crashing over for a 43rd minute try.
Billy Proctor would add a third Māori try six minutes later as the home side opened up a 21-9 lead.
Alamanda Motunga crossed for Moana Pasifika’s first try in the 52nd minute to reduce the Māori lead.
That would be as close as Moana Pasifika got, with flanker Mitch Karpik crashing over with 10 minutes remaining.
A converted try to Dwayne Polataivao with a little over three minutes to go gave Moana Pasifika hope of snatching a draw but the Māori claimed a late turnover to close the game out.