Pera is of Rarotongan, Manihikian and New Zealand Maori descent. She grew up in Invercargill, New Zealand, playing touch rugby, amongst other sports.
“I just had a go at it (union). People asked me to play and I said yes.”
In 2013, Pera moved to Christchurch to study sport and exercise science at university. It was here that she had her first experience with rugby union, signing up to play for the University of Canterbury Rugby Club. Pera’s love for the game then grew immensely.
She eventually represented the region of Canterbury in both sevens and fifteens, before being offered the chance to represent her home province of Southland. Eventually, Pera’s cousin suggested she trial for the Cook Islands women’s sevens team.
“I have a lot of pride in the Cook Islands jersey – all the girls I play with feel that pride also.”
In 2015, Pera made her debut for the Cook Islands women’s sevens team at the Oceania Women’s Sevens Championship held in Fiji. This was followed by a trip to Dublin, Ireland for a repechage tournament and an opportunity to qualify for the 2016 Olympics.
“Crystal and Brent Kaua are awesome coaches – they’ve done a lot for women’s sevens here in the Cooks,” says Pera.
Following her international stint, Pera sent her highlights through to the Yokohama TKM club, based in Japan.
“A friend told me the club needed players and I saw a post online and it had an email address attached to it. I had played in a few competitions and had some footage that I sent through.”
The footage obviously impressed the Japanese club, with Pera being offered a one-year contract soon after submitting her credentials. She moved to Japan in March and began playing for the club. She is hopeful her contract will be renewed at the end of the season.
“It’s a pathway I didn’t think was attainable for me – if I can do it, anyone can,” says Pera, playing down her skills on the field.
“It’d be awesome to see more girls wanting to represent the Cook Islands in rugby.”