All Blacks captain Tane Norton (left) and Bill Bush celebrate after a win.
Former All Black Bill Bush has been inducted as a life member of the New Zealand Māori Rugby Board (NZMRB).
The 72-year-old received the honour at the NZMRB AGM on Wednesday evening, with board chair Dr Farah Palmer praising his “massive” contribution to the game as a player, administrator and advocate.
“Bill” Kingita Te Pohe Bush played more than 100 games at prop for Canterbury between 1971 to 1982, and was also a mainstay in the Māori All Blacks side over that period.
Having played 37 matches for the All Blacks, the former president of the Canterbury Rugby Football Union also went on to coach the Māori All Blacks.
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Palmer also reflected on the impact of Covid-19 last year, with registered Māori players down 22 per cent from 2019 to 35,555.
However, when lockdowns lifted and players returned to paddocks across the country, the sport played a crucial part in many people’s lives, she said.
“Rugby did provide our whānau with what they needed at that time – manaakitanga, whanaungatanga, and kotahitanga. Māori in rugby, and Māori rugby demonstrated resilience and achieved some great outcomes in 2020,” Palmer said.
With no changes to the Board in 2021, Palmer said the group would turn their focus towards a new strategic plan for the next three years.
“With all the changes going on in rugby and te ao Māori, 2021 is an opportunity for us to re-imagine Māori rugby and the role of the Māori Rugby Board in achieving strategic goals for Māori rugby and Māori interests in rugby.”