Pacific Mini Games kick off in Vanuatu

By Moana Makapelu Lee
  • Northland

The Pacific Mini Games have kicked off in Vanuatu.  24 Pacific nations, including this year's newest inclusions- Australia and New Zealand- will compete across 13 different sports at Oceania’s premier multi-sport event.

Pacific Mini Games athlete, Whakawhiti Ranana Rangi may be Aotearoa born and bred, but the Te Kauwhata sevens player will be lifting a different flag, Niue.

Ranana Rangi says, "Just one of those [things] all my kicks and tackles were made and a few tries and the selectors were there and they asked, 'whose the little guy?'

He's one of eleven in the Niue Sevens team competing at this year's games, and the only Māori in the competition.

For many in the squad, including Ranana Rangi it will be their first international event.

"We are like the All Blacks of Niue, trying to picture it in your head like you're playing for the All Blacks really so it hasn't quite sunk in yet but I'm just excited," says Ranana Rangi.

The team aim to make a top five finish in the hopes of an Oceania qualification.

"You can make the IRB Sevens world circuit which is quite exciting," says Ranana Rangi, "[It's] something I'm personally willing to take on board and put in the hard yards for and hopefully I'm eligible to play for Niue."

The team fly out tomorrow morning for Vanuatu, joining 2000 of the Pacific's top athletes converging to battle it out for the top titles.