Taith was pleased to fund the Urdd 7s squad to represent the organisation and Wales as the first ever team to compete from the UK.
During this trip-of-a-lifetime, the Urdd team also had the opportunity to learn about Māori culture and history, visiting Whakaata Māori (Māori TV) and Te Kaha o Te Rangatahi (indigenous youth group) in the Auckland area.
Fourteen young Urdd ambassadors selected for the World Schools 7s squad were not just preparing for the trip with extra rugby sessions led by coaches from the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU).
Ahead of the tour, the team met regularly to learn about the history, language and culture of Wales. As well as offering an opportunity for the group of 14-18 year olds to get to know each other, the team learned traditional Welsh songs and dance to share with young people and communities in New Zealand.
There was a focus on personal development and what the young women could gain from the trip, and also to manage expectations and concerns before jetting off to the other side of the world.
Urdd Gobaith Cymru player Nia Fajeyisan said: “We were not only going to compete in the World School 7’s tournament, but also hold sessions in the community so we could learn about Māori culture and also teach them about our culture and Welsh language. I was excited and proud.”
The Urdd teamed up with Te Taura Whiri i Te Reo Māori (Māori language commission) to share the language and culture of Wales with people in New Zealand, but also learn about the language (te reo Māori) and the culture of the Māori. Te Taura Whiri i Te Reo Māori is leading the government’s Māori language strategy, in order to create conditions for te reo to thrive and promote the language.
The girls learned more about when Te Reo was founded, Māori as an official language in New Zealand, and how to greet people within the Māori community.
The team enjoyed visits to Maungawhau (Mount Eden) to learn about the history of the area and the importance of the land, and a visit to Te Kaha o Te Rangatahi (Māori youth group) where the young people shared experiences of their native languages.
Sian Lewis, Chief Executive of the Urdd, said: “In 2022 the Urdd launched the #FelMerch campaign, to empower women in sports, and break down the barriers that prevent women from participating in sports. This trip was a fantastic opportunity for the girls to compete on an international stage against the best 7s teams in the world.
“Thank you to Taith, Welsh Government, for funding this trip and making these wonderful experiences possible.”