Fans will twirl poi in support of wāhine toa at Rugby World Cup 2021 »

Rugby World Cup 2021 today launched a movement to unite rugby fans to spin poi in support of the wāhine toa who will take part in the tournament from October 8.

Wā Poi (It’s Poi Time) aims to inspire, educate and unite rugby fans around the world through the poi, a unique taonga (treasure) with special meaning to Aotearoa New Zealand and a symbol of wāhine toa (women’s champions ).

Poi is the name of both Māori performance art, most commonly seen by wāhine in Kapa Haka, and objects twirled during performance. Originally made from harakeke (New Zealand flax) and raupō, they are now commonly made from a variety of modern materials including woven fabrics, wool, foam and even paper .

Poi were traditionally used by warriors to limber up their wrists in preparation for battle. In recent times, poi have become commonplace in schools and kura around the motu, with tamariki making poi and performing. Twirling poi can also be a way to build unity as a group in the way they create rhythm when swung in the hand.

The Wā Poi (It’s Poi Time) movement is designed to create an unforgettable atmosphere in stadiums, filling the stands with the unique sights and sounds of poi, reflecting the beating heart of Aotearoa and sharing the beauty of Te Ao Māori with the world.

Key to the development of Wā Poi and guarantee that he is tikanga (culturally correct).

Dr Farah Palmer ONZM, former captain of the Black Ferns, member of the New Zealand Rugby Board and chair of the New Zealand Māori Rugby Board, said: “We are proud and delighted to have worked with some of Aotearoa New Zealand’s masters in the art of poi. . Their guidance and support means we can share this taonga in a way that is tika (culturally correct) and in a way that we hope will unite and inspire nations to support their teams. Using poi will allow them to support poi rere (flying poi) and the resonant sounds of poi paki (percussive poi) in an exciting and unique visual way. As someone who enjoyed poi in kapa haka as a teenager, I’m really looking forward to being a part of this poi-formance.

Rugby World Cup 2021 has also worked closely with stadium venues and security to prepare rugby fans to bring the energy with poi and create a truly unique and engaging tournament experience.

Rugby World Cup 2021 Tournament Director Michelle Hooper said: “Poi holds such a special place in the hearts and minds of New Zealanders, with many of us learning to do and do turn the poi at a young age. They are a Maori taonga (treasure) and a beautiful representation of our mana wāhine. Wā Poi is therefore a fitting way for fans to show their support for the women participating in this tournament.

“We look forward to seeing stadiums filled with the sights and sounds of poi as the world looks on us from October to November and we hope that will continue as a legacy for how we show our support for the women’s sport in the years to come.

Poi will be made available free of charge to fans upon entering the stadium each match day from 8 October to 12 November. Thousands of poi are produced by a range of local suppliers, with Rugby World Cup 2021 focusing on working with growing Maori businesses and using sustainable materials.

Among them is the Ōtepoti Dunedin-based start-up, Pōtiki Poi, owned and operated by 16-year-old Georgia Latu (Kaitahu whānui, Ngāpuhi Nui Tonu) and her māmā Anna. Georgia started the business three years ago, making recycled poi in her living room, in an effort to support her youngest brother born with Down’s syndrome. Pōtiki translates to youngest child, acknowledging his sibling and ancestor Tahu Potiki. Since then, the business has gone from strength to strength, with Georgian poi now being sold in Countdown supermarkets across the country.

Georgia Latu, Managing Director of Pōtiki Poi, said: “Making poi for Rugby World Cup 2021 has been such an exciting historic opportunity. Thank you to all my whānau and friends who handcrafted each poi. ‘Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi, engari he toa takitini’ – Success is not the work of one individual, but the work of many.

Special, a leading independent creative company, has produced a series of educational videos featuring contemporary Maori performance artist and award-winning musician Pere Wihongi, Black Ferns Maiakawanakaulani Roos, Charmaine McMenamin, Sylvia Logo-i-pulotu Lemapu Atai’ i Brunt, RWC 2021 Champions including K’Lee McNabb, Jay Reeve and Tammy Davis, Tom Robinson, Patrick Tito Tuipulotu, Tupou Neiufi, Ally Mayerhofler, Brook Ruscoe, Te-Rina Gregory-Hawke and a number of local school children. The videos aim to educate fans on the correct and respectful use of poi, show how fans can create their own DIY poi at home, and generate support for the movement among fans around the world.

A community engagement program will see schools, kura, community groups and holiday programs involved in poi making as part of the movement.

Do-it-yourself poi-making workshops will also be run by Poi Yeah – a whanau-owned small business run by Te-Rina Gregory-Hawke on matchdays at Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, and by Jasmine Codlin-Henare of FlaxMaiden at Northland Events Center.

The 2021 Rugby World Cup takes place in New Zealand from October 8 to November 12, the first time the showpiece event has taken place in the Southern Hemisphere. It is the world’s biggest event in women’s rugby at 15 and will be contested by the world’s top 12 teams at three match venues – Eden Park, Waitākere Stadium and Northland Events Centre.

Incredible performances celebrating wāhine toa in music and sports will create a spectacular entertainment showcase with renowned artists Rita Ora, BENEE and Shapeshifter on stage at Eden Park. Rita Ora will perform first on the day of the opening match on Saturday, October 8, followed by Shapeshifter in the semi-finals on Saturday, November 5, and BENEE the last title to perform in the finals on Saturday, November 12.

Accessible ticket prices start from just $5 for children and $10 for adults*. For more information and to buy tickets, go to

*Prices applicable to cash purchases made through agents or Ticketek outlets. Online purchases may incur additional payment processing and delivery charges.

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