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Temara rediscovers passion for art after Maori experience

The impact of the last All Stars clash had a lasting effect on playmaker Zahara Temara, who has rediscovered her passion for art as she continues to explore her Maori culture.  

Temara, who moved from New Zealand to Australia as an 11-year-old, represented her Maori heritage earlier this year and is eager to repeat that achievement on the Gold Coast in February.

The Burleigh Bears local turned to designing artwork – culturally and socially driven – in 2019 after suffering serious knee and ankle injuries that left her out of Origin, and underdone for the Roosters in the Holden Women's Premiership.

"I've always drawn some cultural things growing up," Temara told following the launch of the All Stars clash in Robina. 

"When I would go to my Aunt's house there would be a lot of cultural artwork around the house and everyone speaks Maori so she sort of got me into it.

"When I'm drawing or painting I'm in my own world. It's relaxing and I switch off footy and am in a special zone.

"Some people find meditation relaxing but I find drawing to be a good escape."

The artwork of Zahara Temara.
The artwork of Zahara Temara.

Temara's talents have improved over time but she's determined to get better.

"I've got to stop taking big breaks in between pieces," she said.

Temara has endured a rocky year with injury and form sending her down an ever-growing Jillaroos pecking order.

The highlight of her year – NZ Maori's 14-4 win over the Indigenous All Stars in February – has given her perspective.

It was the first time Temara was involved in a Maori team environment and she said there was far more to take away from the week-long camp than the game itself.

"I found there were a lot of similarities with the Maori and the Indigenous cultures," Temara said.

"The mutual respect both sides had for each other was cool as well and the biggest thing I took out of it was how important we are as women.

"One of our coaches spoke about how sacred we are and how nothing runs without us.

"The way he said it was far more inspiring and I liked a lot about how he was saying it, putting it in perspective and saying we need to respect ourselves.

"Him being a man to say it and getting teary saying that to us was heartfelt, they are moments people don't see on the football field."

The artwork of Zahara Temara.
The artwork of Zahara Temara.

The Maori women's side featured the likes of internationals Botille Vette-Welsh, Rona Peters and Krystal Rota, with the team staying at the same hotel as the men's side.

"How the boys acted was very humble and they'd go out of their way to make us feel comfortable – even if it was just letting us go first," Temara said.

"We'd do workshops together and go to appearances, we were all mingling which was nice and for some of the girls who have never been in rep teams and have probably thought NRL players are kings."

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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