Indigenous links strong in NZ
For the last two years Jonathan Wright has been living more than 2000 kilometres away from his birthplace in Gilgandra, New South Wales, yet he continues to find ways to represent his Indigenous culture while in Auckland.
Speaking ahead of the NRL's annual Indigenous Round this weekend, Warriors utility back Wright gave an insight into how he maintains those links at a club dominated by strong Pacific and Maori influences.
"It's actually been quite easy, both cultures have very similar core values [to Indigenous people], with the Polynesian and Maori boys," Wright said.
"Coming over and transitioning to New Zealand has been quite easy and we can relate on certain subjects on life. The culture at the Warriors is one I join in pretty well with and do so quite easily.
"Every club I have been at it has been pretty high in terms of how the boys respect [Indigenous culture] and get involved with it.
"All clubs get involved now with jerseys, special days, community work and it's massive.
"It's a big thing the NRL is doing, they have been doing it for years now and all the players get involved."
Wright has strong Indigenous roots via his parents Victor and Tammy, with Victor helping to form the renowned NSW Koori Rugby League Knockout Carnival back in 1971.
"Both my parents are Indigenous, mum is from Gilroy in NSW and Dad is from the Dunghutti [Aboriginal group], so those are my two tribes," Wright said.
"I come from a big family, massive proud culture, and it's a big part of my life.
"This round is important to me and my family.
"I come from a massive family and rugby league is more important than anything."
Despite only two players at the Kiwi club identifying as Indigenous Australians, the Warriors work hard to respect the culture along with that of the Maori and Pacific players.
Last year when the club asked players to stage cultural acts as part of the pre-season program, both Wright and Matthew Allwood performed Aboriginal tribal dances.
Prop Jacob Lillyman said it's something the whole playing group enjoyed.
"Guys like Jono Wright – who is a very proud Indigenous man – we are always getting him to show us a few of his dance moves and that sort of thing," Lillyman told NRL.com.
"Obviously the majority of the players here are Maori and Pacific islanders, but we do have a couple of Indigenous boys and they make sure we remember it.
"It's good to have those guys around to bring a different aspect of it."