Raukawa ki Runga have their sights on another title at this year's Māori Touch Rugby nationals in Rotorua.The Ngāti Raukawa side has also been boosted with the inclusion of a Rugby League World Cup star.
Winning this tournament isn't the only thing on the minds of the Raukawa ki Runga touch team
Coach Hika Pene (Ngāti Raukawa ki te Tonga, Ngāti Kauwhata) says, “The desire is there, but the big thing for us is the camaraderie.”
The team is boosted with the inclusion of Irish international Rugby League World Cup star and Te Whānau o Ruataupare descendant Apirana Pewhairangi.
Alana Fraser (Ngāti Pikiao) explains, “This is the first time I've played with him. We've only had one game, but it's been good.”
“On Thursday gone I saw his post on Facebook. He was looking and asking for a game. Five minutes later we got back to home. We're very fortunate,” says Pene.
The Ngāti Raukawa ki te Tonga side has experienced success in other sporting codes like Rugby League, with Whiti te Rā winning the Wellington Rugby League title for a second consecutive year. Their success is attributed to the Māori Language and its customs.
“A lot of the players grew up around the Marae and the dining area. They are aware of unity in everything we do,” says Pene.
The tournament is in its 20th year, and Pene has seen many of the ups and downs during his involvement with Raukawa ki Runga.
“Touch isn't the only thing that we do here at this tournament. Teams are required to get up and entertain, sing and haka. You don't see that at other national touch events,” says Pene
Tomorrow is make-or-break for this side. Then we will see whether they will rise to take out another title, or whether they will fall and relinquish it to another side.