A 2007/8 survey of Māori participation in sport showed that Māori have different patterns of participation in sports compared to the New Zealand population as a whole. Sports in which Māori competed in disproportionate numbers include touch rugby, waka ama, rugby union and rugby league for men, and netball, touch rugby and basketball for women.
Almost a quarter (23%) of Māori women who played a sport played netball as compared to 10% of all New Zealand women who played a sport.
Touch rugby was also popular with Māori women – 16% played compared to 6% of all New Zealand women.
Māori women are also strongly represented in basketball, where 9% of Māori women play, while only 4% of all New Zealand women do. The significant numbers of Māori women and men playing basketball has been partially due to the strong influence of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon church) in Māori society.
Only 7% of Māori women play golf and tennis compared to 10% in each sport for all New Zealand women. This is despite the fact that Māori have historically been strong in both sports.
The top sport played by Māori men is touch rugby – which is played by a very significant 35% of Māori men who play sport, as compared to 14% of all New Zealand men who play sport.
Like other New Zealand males, 28% of Māori males play golf. Māori have a history of successful golf players, including Michael Campbell and Phillip Tataurangi.
Around a quarter of Māori men played rugby union, compared to 11% of all New Zealand males.
Rugby league was a significant game for Māori and played by 17% of Māori males compared to 4% for all New Zealand males.
Basketball was played by 17% of Māori males compared to less than half that for all New Zealand males (8%).