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“Ko Kennedy Cherrington Toku Ingoa.
"Ko Motatau Te Maunga.
"Ko Taikirau Te Awa.
"Ko Ngatokimatawhaorua Te Waka.
"Ko Manu Koroki Te Whare Tūpuna.
"Ko Andrea Jordan Te Mama.
"Ko Winiata Cherrington Te Papa.
"Ko Ngāti Hine Te Hapū.
"Ko Ngāpuhi Te Iwi”.

Kennedy Cherrington proudly introduced herself in Māori at Tuesday’s launch of the February 12 All Stars clash at CommBank Stadium, but the Australian-born and raised forward said she wouldn’t have been able to do so before going into camp for the 2021 match earlier this year.

Cherrington, who will play for Parramatta in the upcoming NRLW season, grew up in Perth and described her connection with Māori  culture as “probably absent” until she represented her heritage in February’s match in Townsville.

“Camp is amazing, and it’s not just about footy,” Cherrington said. “For me, All Stars provides an opportunity to re-connect with my land, re-connect with my language and to get in touch with who I am.

“It is quite spiritual. When you are not surrounded by it, as my cousins and other family members are back home [in New Zealand], it is hard to start that relationship.

Kennedy Cherrington, Josh Addo-Carr and Shaylee Bent launch the 2022 All Stars at Parramatta.
Kennedy Cherrington, Josh Addo-Carr and Shaylee Bent launch the 2022 All Stars at Parramatta. ©Grant Trouville/NRL Photos

“We train hard but we have kōhanga classes, which is your basic language classes, we talk about stories, which are similar to [Aboriginal] Dreamtime, about where we come from and the pepeha.”

Pepeha is a Māori introduction, in which a person identifies who they are, where they are from and the background of their whānau [family].

Cherrington shared her pepeha with those in attendance at the All Stars launch before answering a question from MC Hannah Hollis about the significance of the annual clash with the Indigenous All Stars.

“I was introducing myself in Māori; my name, my mountain, my river, my waka [boat], my marae, my mum, my dad, my iwi [tribe], my hapū [sub-tribe],” Cherrington explained.

“I wouldn’t have been able to do that a year ago. The camp provides such an important connection for our team and we all come together.”

The 22-year-old, who played State of Origin for NSW this year and was named in an extended Jillaroos squad for the World Cup, believes the bond the Māori  Ferns players formed was a reason for their 24-0 triumph in Townsville.

Since the match, the players have continued to take part in fortnightly Māori  classes organised by the team’s cultural advisor Len Rite, who is also involved with St Marys in western Sydney.

“He sets up classes for us every second Sunday,” Cherrington said. “We do Kapa Haka classes, which is the haka that we do, and kōhanga [language] classes too.

“We sing some songs [in Māori], and it is just getting that started because the more I know the more confident I become and then I can pass it on to my future generations.”

Match Highlights: Indigenous Women's All Stars v NZ Maori Women's All Stars

The Māori Ferns have also begun preparing for the February 12 match at CommBank Stadium, with the squad having already held a training session.

“We had an All Stars camp last week and got our NSW-based players together, and trained in the rain, as did the Queensland girls, so we have already got a few things going on in the background,” Cherrington said.

“I think we have another camp next weekend and then we cut over Christmas and come together again before [All Stars] camp, so we are all organised and ready to go.”

Acknowledgement of Country

Parramatta Eels respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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