Cook Islander Andre Whittaker. RNZ Pacific/21021036
The new chief executive officer of Wellington Rugby League says the future of the game is with Maori and Pasifika communities.
200 people turned out to support the mihi whakatau ceremony for Andre Whittaker
– who’s of Cook Islands and Tahitian descent.
league community was out in force for the ceremony – a pleasing sight for the
new chief executive officer.
had representatives from across all the clubs and what’s been really nice too
is some of the older members, life members in Wellington are re-engaging with
the game again, so fantastic, and our Pasifika communities, of course,”
Pacific and Maori communities make up a strong part of Wellington Rugby
League’s eleven clubs.
what we want to do is encourage and support to have their own Pasifika and
Maori tournament games and that's always happened but we just want to help out
more and make that stronger, because the future of our game is with our Maori
and Pasifika communities,” he said.
is the first Pacific person in the new role, and Wellington Rugby League’s
Fauono Ken Laban, said they’re celebrating inclusion and diversity.
historic with Andre being the first Pacific Islander in New Zealand to be
appointed to an executive position. We have had General Managers and that in
past but not a chief executive officer at this level,” Laban said.
comes from a very strong background and club legacy that is obviously the
foundation of his life, and I think the large crew that turned up today to support
him is really representative of the club and the wider rugby league here in
Wellington, and of course it was a nice touch to have the drums of the Cook
Islands here today.”
Wellington Rugby league board also shared part of the its strategy draft for
Akavi is the chairman of the Porirua Vikings and vice-chairman of the
Wellington referees association.
appointment of Andre Whittaker is really an exciting time as they time back
their game, and that it was good to see that the community is here to help us
support that time of vision,” Akavi said.
added that rugby league was strong in Porirua and a very high percentage of
players are Pasifika and Maori brothers and sisters.
got three clubs out there, stalwarts out there. We’ve got the Titahi Bay
Marlins, the St George Dragons and the Porirua Vikings.
rugby league is very strong within our community, it’s just something that our
kids love to do on a weekend and it’s a good family environment we tend to have
throughout the tree clubs out there in Porirua,” he said.
Hunt of the St George Dragons club in Porirua said it’s great to see a Pacific
person in the role – as there’s a high Pasifika and Maori base in the
Wellington rugby league community.
Cannons Creek Porirua, we are a low decile area, so there's a lot of Pacific
Island and Maori families. St George club in Porirua is the biggest junior
rugby league club. Ninety-five percent is Pacific Islanders and Maori.”
pleased about Rugby League Wellington’s strategy of engaging more communities.
being a Pacific Islands woman, being Samoan, it’s good to have those diverse
cultures in there, all coming together, so it’s very important."
Rugby League said its vision is to work with many people and acknowledge the
contributions the Maori and Pacific communities have made to the game.