Last weekend Canterbury Rugby League held its inaugural ‘Tama tū, Hapori ora Wānanga’, a kaupapa (event) initiated by CRL CEO Malcolm Humm, and developed and facilitated by CRL Board Vice-Chair Dr Phil Borell with the support of the Ministry of Social Development Changemakers program.

The name, Tama tū, Hapori ora plays on the whakataukī Tama tū, tama ora. Tama noho, tama mate (He who stands lives, he who remains idle will perish). For Canterbury Rugby League, Tama tū, Hapori ora represents the idea that when our men stand, our community can thrive.

The event was held at Te Mātauranga Māori, the wharenui (meeting house) at Te Puna Wānaka, at the ARA campus in central Christchurch. This is a modern wharenui built for bringing Māori knowledge to the fore and sharing stories and knowledge within a te ao Māori (Māori world view space).

Manuhiri from several Canterbury Rugby League clubs attended, including Addington Magpies, Woolston Rams, Eastern Eagles and a large contingent from Riccarton Knights.

Speakers included Heperi Harris from Sport NZ and The Kutt; Jacob Ahuriri-Budgen from The Kutt and Kī o Rahi ki Waitaha; Phil Siataga from Belonging Ltd and Mapu Maia with Lupe Asi from Mapu Maia and Eastern Eagles, and Wiremu Gray from Mana Facilitation; and lastly our keynote speaker, Richie Hardcore, founder of the Rise Above Charitable Trust, Muay Thai champion and coach, and anti-violence ambassador.

“In recognition of our large Māori and Pasifika player base it felt appropriate that we would look to incorporate te ao Māori and Pasifika leaders into our inaugural Tama Tū, Hapori Ora Wānanga program,” Dr Borrell said.

“Our speakers all had connections to Māori and Pasifika communities, as well as the wider rugby league community, and their sessions reflect the values that we want to instil in our sport moving forward.

“The attendees were all amazing and open and they all engaged with each of the sessions enthusiastically. I can’t wait to see what we can do with future wānanga. If we can show the community how much CRL really values our athletes, clubs, and their families and their communities, then I think we’re on to a winner.”

We were welcomed into Te Mātauranga Māori by Heperi Harris and our mihi whakatau was a short but sweet affair, with Heperi speaking for tāngata whenua (home peoples) and CRL CEO Malcolm Humm speaking on behalf of the manuhiri (visitors). The wānanga itself was hosted and facilitated by Phil Borell.

Our speakers touched on a range of amazing topics.

Heperi offered provocations and conversations about self-awareness and reflection using traditional Māori oral traditions such as the pūrākau (stories) of Māui; Jacob showed us how we can be utilising taonga tākaro (traditional Māori games) in building whanaungatanga (connection/familiarity) and in junior coaching or general skill development; and Phil, Lupe and Wiremu spoke about living ‘life on the front foot’ and how we can exercise gratitude in our daily lives while also channelling different atua Māori (Māori deities) to aid us in decision-making in the moment.

Concluding, Richie delivered a powerful keynote address examining and unpacking contemporary perspectives of masculine identity, particularly in relation to men to participate in contact- or combat-heavy sports. His kōrero was deeply moving and probably triggering for some of our manuhiri. Richie certainly challenged the way we think of what it means to be a man in such a hyper-masculine sport.

“The delivery of the Changemakers program is aligned with the CRL 2023-2026 Strategic Plan,” added Humm, “whereby key goals are that as the regional governing body of rugby league in Canterbury, we are supporting the community not just within rugby league, but with our membership’s own personal development journey and ensuring we are facilitating a safe and enjoyable environment for all.”

“We are thrilled that a number of our clubs engaged with this program, and we are excited about how we can build on this programme for the future.”

Canterbury Rugby League thanks all who were involved and everyone who attended.

Special thanks also go to Ministry of Social Development, Leons on Lancaster (Leon Yee, catering), As.I Photography (Shaun Asi, photographer) and SimiPeteloVisuals (Simi Petelo, videographer), Stan Tawa and Nicky Ward (Ara).

CRL Changemakers Initiative-070
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