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New Zealand Rugby announce ground-breaking Pasifika strategy

By Ned Lester
Ardie Savea of the All Blacks and team mates perform the Haka during the The Rugby Championship & Bledisloe Cup match between the Australia Wallabies and the New Zealand All Blacks at Melbourne Cricket Ground on July 29, 2023 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

New Zealand Rugby (NZR) announced a ground-breaking five-year Pasifika strategy on Friday, which was led by Pasifika, for Pasifika with the hopes of seeing an increase in opportunities at all levels of the game.

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Four pillars (pou) set the strategy’s tone: Kelekele (preparing the soil), Tot? (planting the seed), Tubu (growing our Pasifika people) and Lalanga (strengthening the shared vision of NZR and Pasifika people).

NZR will support the Provincial Unions, Super Clubs and clubs with how the strategy can inform their efforts in embracing and supporting the Pasifika community.

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NZR Chair Dame Patsy Reddy said the strategy expresses NZR’s commitment to empowering Pasifika people by infusing Pasifika values into their rugby environments.

“This strategy represents our collection of visions and aspirations for Pasifika in rugby,” Reddy said. “It is our commitment to see environments where Pacific people can flourish and ensure our sport is responding to the specific needs of the Pasifika community.

“Pasifika have made an immense contribution to rugby in New Zealand, particularly on the field. The strategy is tasked with supporting New Zealand Rugby and wider rugby community to provide a range of pathways for Pasifika on and off the field.”

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The importance of the initiative being Pasifika-led was highlighted by NZR Tausoa Fa’atasi Co-Chair and NZR Emerging Director Pauline-Jean Luyten. A statement from NZR revealed the extent of the consultation process, with over 20,000 hours being volunteered by professional and community Pasifika players, their families, coaches, referees, directors and administrators across Provincial Unions and clubs.

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“NZR is showing it can do things differently and the co-design process was that point of difference,” Luyten said. “Being Pasifika-led is a step toward rebalancing the vaka and nurturing the v? (the relational space between people or groups), ensuring we feel valued and belong in the rugby system. This strategy is about us and has been crafted with us.”

“Faka Malo ‘aupito (thank you) to our k?inga (family) and communities who were involved with the consultation process. Your shared lived experiences were integral to the strategy’s development. We also acknowledge our non-Pasifika for their open hearts and desire to work as a collective.”

The strategy comes with a plan for implementation and will inform NZR’s annual strategies moving forward.

Former All Black and NZR Pasifika Engagement Manager Saveatama Eroni Clarke highlighted the importance of the strategy and the opportunities it will promote.

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“For many years Pasifika have made a significant impact towards on-field success and I am thankful for our trailblazers who have paved the way. I’m so proud of this achievement, it’s a historic moment for our Pasifika rugby communities. I am excited to witness the outcome of this strategy and see our people pursue their aspirations.”

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