Tohu Harris remembers his roots with Tamatea Rugby Club

By Aroha Treacher
  • North Island: East Coast
  • Australia

Melbourne Storm second rower Tohu Harris, a Hawke's Bay boy born and bred at Waipatu Marae has his sporting roots through his family connection to the Tamatea Rugby Club. This weekend the hapū and whānau welcome him and the team home ahead of their historical clash against the Dragons.

Tamatea Rugby Club has a rich sporting history spanning more than a century, a club that Tohu's ancestors help to originally build.

"Pretty much with Tamatea Ariki Nui we've got the say one waka one direction everyone rowing in the same direction and everyone stick together," explains Tāne Cooper, Tohu Harris's brother-in-law.

Preparations are underway to get the clubrooms in the best shape possible before the big game this weekend. Tohu's Mum - Dale Moffatt, puts the final touches to his framed Kiwi's jersey making sure it has pride of place on the walls of the club that helped to shape his sporting achievements.

"Its just been the whole whānau aspect of Tamatea he's played with all his cousins all his brothers and even his father on occasion growing up," say his mum.

His Uncle, Don Hutana, also acknowledges his example for the club, "He’s a unique person, a leader who is living up to the expectations of his family from our ancestor Tamatea Arikinui right through to his family today."

Though Harris is a secondrower for the Melbourne Storm one of the heavyweights of the NRL competion for the last decade, he hasn't forgotten his roots.

"Just having him put Tamatea out there in the global world really has been amazing for him to achieve that for us, you know, he does it for us, he does it for himself his family and every time he puts on the jersey he's said he's thinking about putting the Tamatea jersey on," says Cooper.

His Mum says that he was always bigger than all the other kids his age growing up and that he gets those genes from his father's side of the family, the Harris side.

At the age of just 14-years-old he reached 6'4" in height and tipped the scales at 112kg, the same weight and height he is today for the Melbourne Storm.

Growing up his size difference compared to the other kids his age did give him an advantage in competitive sports like athletics his Mum explains with a smile.

"We used to always have to take his birth certificate so the other mums wouldn't get upset and think he was a ring in to win the race, he was always fast and he always did well."

His family and hapū are working hard to put their best foot forward when they host the team this weekend for a special private hangi experience for the players, ahead of their first ever home game against the Dragons on Saturday night at McLean Park in Napier.