Nuhaka Rugby Club celebrates 140 years

By Aroha Treacher
  • North Island: East Coast

The Nuhaka Rugby Club is celebrating 140 years in an area that has a strong Māori Battalion history and is home to one of New Zealand's most celebrated All Blacks, George Nepia. 

The marauders wear the evening star with pride- a symobl of the Nuhaka Rugby Club for 140 years.

"It means a big thing.  Tt goes back to the wars.  We were victorious, we wore the star," says Ted Whaanga, foundation member of the club.

Established in 1878 it has survived the two world wars, with 40 Nuhaka men joining the Māori Battalion.

"Forty went away and 40 came back- it's just unbelievable that that happened, but they all came back from the war.  They got wounded, they got taken prisoner- but 40," says Jim Whaanga.

The club was born in a time when the rugby ball was made from a dried pig's bladder.

"We had no showers.  We had an earth floor, a shed and only a horse trough to wash in back in the 50s and it wasn't until 59-60 that we got these buildings here," explains Ted Whaanga.

In 1924 the area produced its first All Black, Rugby Hall of Famer, George Nepia.

"George Nepia came to Nuhaka School.  It used to be called the Native School and he played for the Nuhaka Rugby Club, the same time that he was playing for the Māori All Blacks," says Hickson Raroa, Vice Captain, Nuhaka Rugby Club.

The club has no intention of slowing down and looks forward to celebrating its next 140 years.