World Smokefree Day is on Thursday, May 31, and on these shores it’s about celebrating and working towards smokefree/auahi kore lives for New Zealanders.

As per, the objectives of World Smokefree Day in New Zealand are:

  • Raising awareness and contributing to the achievement of the Smokefree 2025 goal.
  • Enabling better collaboration, planning and coordination of work within regions and across the country.
  • Raising awareness of the smokefree kaupapa with an emphasis on reducing exposure to second-hand smoke and increasing quit attempts.
  • Enabling continuity and consistency of messaging across the country.
  • Building on and complementing current work in tobacco control.

And in Canterbury Rugby League circles, you can always count on the Rolleston Warriors to be promoting the smokefree message with gusto – it was among their foundational principles when the club formed 18 months ago.

The Warriors have a staunch smokefree stance, including a ban on parents and spectators from smoking at games and practices on their home fields.

Club president Nui Ririnui says the hardline position on the issue has had an overwhelmingly positive effect.

“The big one is our children and having a healthy environment,” Ririnui explains.

“At the club it’s going to create a positive outcome of families wanting to join if they’re at a club that’s passionate not only about rugby league, but about the stuff off the field.

“Over the last two years it’s played a role in our success as a club. A lot of people have taken the message on board, which is really cool.

“We didn’t really expect that, but people have really bought into it and it’s become a bit of a culture for us.”

Ririnui stresses that the smokefree agenda is not about embarrassing or ostracising people who smoke – the Rolleston Warriors are committed to helping their rugby league whanau to kick the habit on their own terms.

The club actively works with the District Health Board, assisting with workshops and education in almost a liaison role.

“Some people have probably been smoking all their life and there’s maybe a bit of shame about coming out and talking about it,” Ririnui says.

“That’s why we work with Smokefree and the District Health Board, just to help people. We’re not going to tell people to stop, but we’re there to help them going through the processes.

“All of our events we have in Rolleston, we invite them along and they set up (a stall).

“The (Rolleston) Nines we had 10 teams and it was really positive. The response we had from everyone was really good. One of the parents came up to me and said ‘this was awesome, it was nice and clean, we could actually smell the air’, which is really cool.”

The Warriors’ backing of Smokefree is just one aspect of their dedication to encouraging positive behaviour and healthy initiatives amongst their rugby league whanau and the wider community.

The club also proudly supports the It’s Not OK and Be a Sport programs.

The community-first focus has effectively been the bedrock upon which the Rolleston club has been built on, and a key part of the runaway success the Warriors have become.

Player numbers continue to skyrocket: The Warriors have three nursery teams and a team in each grade from the 6s right up to the 10s. But as Ririnui explains, this is just the beginning.

“Everyone knows that Rolleston’s growing and we’re growing with that population. That’s why we created the club, because we wanted to build with the community,” he enthuses.

“It’s showing that having the club out here, we’re helping to grow the game. We believe our kids are the future for not just the game, but for us as a club.

“If we filter these grades through to the seniors, in another five or six years we could be looking to potentially become a premier club.

“That’s the goal for any club, to have a premier team, and that’s definitely the goal for us.

“There’s a couple of new parks going out here in Rolleston and we’ve submitted a proposal to hopefully gain around eight brand new fields.

“So like I said, we’re not stopping.

“Off the field we’re looking at the bigger picture – new fields, new lights, new clubrooms and other stuff like that.

“That’s the behind-the-scenes stuff we’re working towards.”


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