The Vaughn Kuka 10s Rugby Tournament in Tauranga has born the name of the local rugby hero for 20 years. Now the trophy honouring his memory is being retired, but the tournament will carry on with a new direction.
With over 200 players here next year the event will have a new name. Te Hemara Gardiner, supporter of Hangarau Rugby team says “The family has decided that 20 years is enough which is all good, the Vaughn kuka I actually grew up with his son, his son is from Hangarau he married, his wife was a Nuku from hangarau so we are very close with the taonga and hence why we give it a good crack every year.”
Roy Kuka is a nephew to Vaughn today he's playing for Te Puna, he has been coming to play for his uncle for the last 20 years. “He was a man of small stature but had a huge heart, he would give it heaps on the field. He was a strong thinker, mentally, spiritually, physically, he was very handsome and he also gave everything to his family, sub-tribe and to this club.”
This year 16 teams are playing in the tournament they come from Tauranga, the wider Bay of Plenty and Waikato. “We are only one of the Marae teams in us and Raungaiti I think are the two Marae teams that get the challenge against some premier bay wide rugby teams, teams that actually play in the competition it's a good test for us to get amounts teams like that insert of just playing Marae rugby” says Gardiner.
Roy Kuka has been coming to this tournament for 20 years, “there were only five teams but today there are 16/15 teams and a lot of Māori teams from Tauranga Moana” Despite the weather the tournament continued on with Te Puna winning the trophy for 2018.