Māori players star in Australia's Wallaroos rugby side
Sold-out double-header test matches at Eden Park will kick off between New Zealand and Australia today at 5pm with the Black Ferns set to take on the Wallaroos.
Last weekend the Black Ferns defeated the Wallaroos but today's game will be very special for the Wallaroos team, with almost half of the Australian side returning to play in their home country.
Wallaroos player and Ngāti Porou descendant, Evelyn Horomia confirms, the iwi and waka connections the players have.
"There are 11 Māori girls in the Wallaroos team and we all come different iwi.
"There's some from Tainui, Ngāpuhi, Tūhoe and Ngāti Porou like myself."
In the 23-side named in this weekend's match, nine players are of Māori descent, with one player in the wider squad and Assistant Coach Moana Virtue.
Horomia was born and bred in Gisborne and has been living in Australia for 10 years now.
She says most of the Māori girls are excited to play in their ancestral land.
"Most of us are from and brought up in NZ but we haven't been back in a while it's good to come home and play some rugby here."
A niece to well-known Ngāti Porou and former Maori Affairs Minister Parekura Horomia, Horomia says she is proud to be Māori and also to be wearing the Wallaroos jersey.
"Every day I wake up and I'm proud to be Māori and will never forget where I come from when I go play rugby.
"Even though it's for Australia, I still represent our people so that makes me proud."
She also adds that despite not being able to do the haka on the field she still draws strength from the Black Ferns' haka.
"Personally, I use it to embrace myself and my game to prepare for my game.
"Even though we don't do the haka, it still gives me strength and makes me miss home but I'm proud to play for Australia and represent this country that has given me opportunities."
Today the Wallaroos and Black Ferns game kicks off at 5 PM at Eden Park.