The Hamilton-based franchise announced on Friday their women's team would be known as the Manawa, following an extensive process to develop an appropriate name for their debut in the inaugural competition.
Chiefs women's coach Allan Bunting led the process of developing the new team identity alongside men’s coach Clayton McMillan, New Zealand Rugby Māori Cultural Advisor Luke Crawford, Chiefs jersey designer Dave Burke, the franchise’s commercial manager Kate Rawnsley and a number of the women's players.
The process was focused on developing a name that connected the Chiefs club’s people, places, past and present. Waitomo Group has also come on board as the team's main sponsor.
The name Manawa was derived from the words mana and wāhine (women). Chiefs mana is considered a central pillar of the franchise.
“We were fortunate to catch up with Clayton because it was important for us to know the deeper story in behind the Chiefs and Chiefs mana,” said Bunting. “It was important for our name to come from within the Chiefs story, but also hold an opportunity for us to create our own identity.
“In the name Manawa there is a lot of meaning in behind it and will be pretty sacred to the team. It translates into heart, chiefly heart, and for us it is important to be connected through the heart.”
Bunting said the Chiefs had been “connected” through Te Ao Māori for some time and it was important to reflect that in their name.
“It is a connection and holds a whole lot more meaning for the mind, body, heart and spirit. A lot can derive from this and our players will connect into that,” he said.
The Chiefs Manawa jersey was also unveiled. At the heart of the design is the mangōpare (hammerhead shark), depicting determination and tenacity. When the pattern is viewed from another angle it depicts the manawa (beating heart) shape.
Chiefs chief executive Michael Collins said the creation of “our new team is a special event, not only in our club’s history, but the history of women’s rugby in New Zealand”.