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Tahnee sets the tone for Wanderers’ inaugural Indigenous jersey

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For someone who believes she doesn’t have a creative bone in her body, Tahnee Ella can be well pleased with her efforts.

And, the Wanderers Rugby Club concurs.

In fact, the Two Blues will wear the proud Yuin woman’s specially-designed jersey – entitled The Land on Which We Play – into its Indigenous round showdown against the Singleton Bulls at No 2 Sportsground on Saturday 13 August.

“We’re thrilled with the playing strip,” president Peter Chrystal said.

“Tahnee’s really excelled herself.

“Hunter Rugby developed a community engagement calendar for the 2022 season to build and strengthen ties within our community while also celebrating the cultural diversity and inclusivity of the sport we all love.

“August is First Nations Awareness Month, with this weekend dedicated to acknowledging the traditional owners of the land, which encompasses the Awabakal, Worimi and Wonnarua people.

“We want to pay our respect to them and their elders past, present and emerging.

“At the same time, we’ll recognise their cultural heritage, beliefs and continuing relationships with the land.”

Chrystal said the Wanderers reached out to its community at the start of 2022 for inspiration and assistance in designing the club’s inaugural Indigenous jumper.

And, it came from within the organisation.

“Dane McNamara, a third grade player, nominated his partner (Tahnee) to help,” he explained.

“She comes from a family of Aboriginal artists.

“So, Dane thought art may have been a talent that Tahnee also shared.

“When he announced he’d volunteered her to paint the Indigenous round design for the Wanderers this season, she was filled with horror.

“Apparently, Tahnee had never picked up a paintbrush in her life.

“She was overwhelmed thinking of how she would design and paint something worthy of being on our jersey for the special occasion.

“But, after several months of arguing with Dane about the painting and lots of procrastination, she

eventually took the option to just sit down and try.

“Before long, Tahnee became consumed by the creation and discovered she found the process to be very calming, allowing her to drown out the business of life for a while.

“Ironically, through the creation of this original artwork for the Wanderers, she’s unearthed a new passion for art while learning many new things about a culture she is so proud to be a part of.

“Tahnee is now on to her third artwork and foresees many more to come.”

Chrystal said The Land on Which We Play summed up the club – and the region – perfectly.

“The waterway depicted in the painting represents the Hunter River, which has provided food sources for their ancestors for thousands of years,” he stated.

“The two campsites to the right of the river represent the local tribes that share the lands surrounding the river.

“You can see that both women and men are represented at the campsite together, which symbolises our local men’s and women’s rugby competitions.

“The campsite to the left of the river embodies and pays respect to the ancestors who have passed down their culture through art, stories and dance.

“The Wedgetail eagle holds cultural significance and denotes the totem of our local Awabakal tribe that is home to the Wanderers Rugby Club.

“The snake has been used as a symbol of strength, creativity and continuity.”

The Newcastle Rugby Union Referees Association (NRURA) also commissioned artist Kulka Rose Fahey to fashion its Indigenous kit for the First Nations round.

Kulka is an award-winning, aspiring Aboriginal creative currently located on Awabakal land, originally from Birpai and Worimi Country.

Orana NRURA was inspired by the land on which the NRURA covers, which includes the wide area from Nelson Bay to Muswellbrook.

“The match officials wear the City of Newcastle crest on their uniforms,” board member Barney Collins said.

“So, the colours within the painting resemble those of the NRURA committee, which are there to commemorate the official colours of the City of Newcastle Regiment.

“The city’s official colours, adopted in 1923, are the brown and green that belonged to ‘Newcastle’s Own’ 35th Battalion.

“The seagulls recall the setting and the nature of the city of Newcastle and its surroundings, which is what Kulka wanted to emphasise within this artwork.”

At only 23 years of age, Kulka was selected to have her artworks displayed within three separate exhibitions conducted within the Hunter in the past year.

Growing up, she was always creative with either a paint brush or pencil in hand.

Both jerseys were designed from an original painting with the assistance of O’Neills Sportswear.

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