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Australian captain Boyd Cordner had to endure a joke about the Kangaroos losing to New Zealand in last Saturday night's Test after he and his teammates were welcomed into the Papakura Marae.

Cordner led the Kangaroos into the marae on Monday night after a traditional Māori ritual ceremony known as the pōwhiri in which he had to identify whether they were entering as friend or foe.

Former Kiwis international Tea Ropati, who joined Newcastle in 1988 along with a teenage Tana Umaga and was the inaugural Warriors player of the year in 1995, acted as a guide for the Australian players and off-field staff, led by coach Mal Meninga.

Once inside the marae, Cordner, halfback Daly Cherry-Evans and prop David Klemmer were selected as chiefs and each came forward to perform a hongi, the touching noses as a traditional Māori greeting, before being presented with a tiki to wear as a symbol of respect.

Initially, the Māori elder placing the tiki around the trio's necks was unable to get it over Klemmer's head.

The Kangaroos are given an insight into Maori culture.
The Kangaroos are given an insight into Maori culture. ©Grant Trouville/NRL Photos

After a ceremony inside the marae, the players were taught how to use the ancient taiaha weapon developed for hand-to-hand fighting and to prepare a hangi, a traditional Māori oven in the ground, which was used to cook their dinner.

"For me it was pretty special. It is similar to Indigenous culture but that food that we had was pretty awesome, the hangi," Kangaroos utility Tyrone Peachey said. "It was the first time I have had it and the whole experience was pretty cool."

Afterwards the players watched traditional dancing by a group of school children, who then chose winger Dane Gagai, centre Latrell Mitchell, second-rower Felise Kaufusi and lock Jake Trboyevic to perform a haka.

The Kangaroos were given a lesson on the haka in Auckland.
The Kangaroos were given a lesson on the haka in Auckland. ©Grant Trouville/NRL Photos

Teammates said Gagai, who has Māori heritage, and Mitchell picked it up a lot easier than Trbojevic.

"There are a few boys who were uncoordinated but it was an eye-opener for myself and obviously a few other boys to learn the culture of the Kiwis and Māori culture," prop Reagan Campbell-Gillard said.

"At the start there was obviously a welcoming to their place, a ceremony inside and a hangi for dinner. Some kids from a school did some traditional dancing and a few boys did the haka. That was pretty funny.

"I'd never been to a marae before but it was something Mal wanted to do and it was great to experience that."

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours 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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