May 2017: The team consisted of 11 men, nine who were from Te Arawa and were sons, mokopuna, whanaunga of paeārahi from Arohamai Cancer Support Services, Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Pikiao, Te Waiariki Purea Trust, Korowai Aroha and Te Arawa Whānau Ora.
The players embarked on a life changing journey where they competed against teams, Australian States and the Presidents 12 Squad (best players from New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland). They returned home with the gold medal having only dropped one game.
Te Waiariki Purea Trust paeārahi, Kim Richards says her son, Hemi Richards-Mckinney was the team’s coach and manager.
“I am really proud of his passion and dedication to keep this sport alive in the Te Arawa rohe and supportive of these young men,” she says.
“For a lot of them it was their first time out of New Zealand. These boys connected as a group but they also connected through whakapapa.”
Support and funds for the competition were raised by whānau and the paeārahi.
“We work collaboratively through our collective but this was outside our own roles,” Kim says.
“The work we do carries on in our own hours and within our own whānau.”
U20 New Zealand Men’s gold medal team:
- 1 Joshua Vercoe
- 2 Caleb Vercoe
- 3 Tuhi Mikaere George
- 4 Jackson Reid
- 5 Poutewha Te Kaawa
- 6 Xavier Reid
- 7 Piripi Matthews
- 8 Teaku Tuilave
- 9 Vihehio Peiauni Hakalia
- 10 Tanekohurangi Apaapa
- 11 Samuela Nathan