Beautiful Black Ferns Awa Manawa installation unveiled

May 6, 2022

Black Fern Ruahei Demant points to her name on the Black Ferns Awa Manawa during the Black Ferns squad naming for the 2022 June Series at the All Blacks Experience on May 04, 2022

Black Fern Ruahei Demant points to her name on the Black Ferns Awa Manawa at the All Blacks Experience, 4 May 2022

The Black Ferns have been celebrated with the unveilling of a new installation at the All Blacks Experience with former and current Black Ferns in attendance on Wednesday.

The unveiling of Awa Manawa coincides with the 2022 Year of Women’s Rugby in Aotearoa and clearly delighted the many wāhine rugby captains attending from Auckland schools. The work was designed by renowned Māori artist David Burke with input from New Zealand Rugby Kaihautu Māori, Luke Crawford.

Awa Manawa is a living work and will continue to grow and intertwine through the Experience as incoming Black Ferns have their names added.

The name Awa (river) Manawa (heart) refers to the flowing graphic and the way in which it weaves its way through the Experience. The kōwhaiwhai pattern is inspired by tā moko (Māori tattoo design) where all design elements flow off the central manawa or heart line. The names of every wahine who has pulled on the Black Ferns jersey are displayed within a central, unbroken line which acknowledges the whakapapa of the team and their history.

The pattern includes several elements to ensure this piece is centred around the Black Ferns and is recognisably female, featuring a female figure with moko kauae. Mamaku (fern fronds) speak to the team’s Māori name and their waiata and haka, three maunga (mountains) represent the obstacles that players will have overcome to play for the team, and the mangopare (hammerhead shark) design elements denote a ‘never give up’ mindset and attitude. The new addition sits with mana alongside the existing All Blacks Awa Manawa.

From the outset, joint venture partners New Zealand Rugby and Ngāi Tahu Tourism believed it was essential the All Blacks Experience showcased Māori culture and history with the same level of respect and authenticity as paid to the game itself. This is reflected in several of the installations.

All Blacks Experience General Manager Phil McGowan says the Awa Manawa artwork has been one which has been very close to the heart of the All Blacks Experience team.

“We wanted to acknowledge the role of these important wāhine in rugby, particularly through their performance as the Black Ferns. They are a significant part of Aotearoa New Zealand’s culture and that’s why we’ve spent the last six months working on a piece which truly reflects this and showcases them alongside our men’s team.

“We’re thrilled to have so many wāhine connected with the team at the unveiling today. It’s an important part of our journey to showcase all our national rugby teams in black, and the role the Black Ferns have played within rugby in New Zealand throughout the decades,” says McGowan.

Following the event Black Ferns Captain Ruahei Demant said; “The thing that struck me most when I first joined the Black Ferns team were the players talking about the legacy. Those that have gone before us and made this team what it is. It is so inspiring, so having that legacy displayed in such a beautiful way for future generations to see is incredibly special.”

The All Blacks Experience, a New Zealand Rugby and Ngāi Tahu Tourism joint venture, shares with visitors the legacy of the black jersey to inspire them to strive for greatness, no matter who they are or where they’re from.

In this grassroots to glory story, hear first-hand what it takes to make it in the world’s most successful sports teams, up close and personal from the players themselves. From humble beginnings playing rugby in local communities to the hard mahi representing New Zealand. From teamwork to triumph, from the clubrooms to professional sport and from game plans to game time.

Come behind the scenes, hear real stories from players past and present, insights and tips from the coaches. Feel what it is like to be in the changing rooms before the game, walk through the tunnel and experience the mighty haka on the field. Finally put yourself to the test, hone your skills and see if you’ve got what it takes to wear the black jersey.

For more information, visit