Pre World War One - It is a little known fact that football has been played in New Zealand for nearly as long has it has been played in Australia. From the late 1850's until May 1881 Christ's College, Canterbury played football by what were called "College Rules" These rules were almost identical to the Melbourne Rules of the day.
The Christchurch Football Club, founded in 1863, also played a very similiar football game, until 1876 when they were probably the first club in Canterbury to adopt the Rugby rules. One of the Christchurch Rules was that the player was required to bounce the ball every four yards!
Further south, the game was played in Otago by locals and many of the tens of thousands of Australians who poured into the province during the gold rush.
In 1889 the New Zealand "Native" (NZ born) footballers returning from their marathon British tour played 8 matches in Victoria under these rules. The team won five matches, including a remarkable two goal victory over Victoria's then reigning Premiers South Melbourne.
An economic boom in New Zealand in the early 1900s attracted thousands of Australians to cross the Tasman in search of work. Their number included several ex VFA and VFL footballers who played here professionally.
New Zealand Represented at Australasian Carvinal - In 1908 the New Zealand team - dressed in black with a gold fern - competed in the Jubilee Australasian Football Carnival with games played at the M.C.G. They defeated New South Wales and Queensland, and lost to Victoria and Tasmania to finish fourth out of the seven competing teams.
Development of the game in New Zealand was stopped abruptly by World War I.
After a 40 year hiatus Australian Football was revived in the 1970s and the game is now played in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. The sport is governed by the New Zealand Australian Football Council with representation from the three centres.
New Zealand competes in International Australian Football Championship - The game reached another highpoint in May 1995 when the New Zealand team competed in the inaugural International Australian Football Championship held in conjunction with the ARAFURA Sports Festival in Darwin, Northern Territory of Australia.
New Zealand defeated Nauru, Japan/Singapore and Hong Kong and was defeated by New Guinea to finish second in the round robin section of the championship. New Zealand was defeated by Papua New Guinea in the Final to finish the Championship as winners of the Silver Medal.