New Zealand Warriors and the Pasifika Aotearoa Collective (PAC) have joined hands to provide a range of football and commercial benefits for both organisations.
PAC is a collection of bodies from the Cook Islands, Fiji, Niue, Samoa, Tokelau, Tonga and the New Zealand Māori Rugby League which was formed last year to deliver a stronger voice and more opportunities for Pasifika and Māori rugby league.
The partnership was marked by PAC representatives and Warriors staff watching the squad train at Mt Smart Stadium.
Warriors CEO Cameron George describes the alliance as “immensely significant for both of us”.
“The impact Pasifika and Māori players continue to have on rugby league is phenomenal.
“We’ve just seen that again through what Toa Samoa did last month in becoming the first Pasifika nation to make the Rugby League World Cup final,” says George.
“And we saw further signs of potential on Sunday when the first PAC representative team – an under-15 combination – beat the Sydney Roosters under-15s wearing One New Zealand Warriors colours.
“Together with PAC we will provide as many opportunities as possible for players of Pasifika and Māori heritage to come into the game by delivering pathway options.”
New Zealand Māori Rugby League chair John Devonshire said PAC members were thrilled to cement a relationship with the Warriors.
“It’s an exciting opportunity for the Pasifika Aotearoa Collective working alongside the One New Zealand Warriors for the betterment of the game,” he said.
“They’re vital to the profile of rugby league in our country and through our combined efforts we see so many benefits for our young players and coaches. The more we can do together the better it will be for rugby league.”
Ex-head coach Andrew McFadden, now back at the club as general manager recruitment, pathways and development, welcomes the united approach between the club and PAC.
“Through this partnership all competitions and pathways run by PAC’s five member nations and the New Zealand Māori Rugby League will lead to the One New Zealand Warriors,” he said.
“There’s so much talent coming through their systems and tournaments.
“We’re here to grow the game through each of PAC’s partners. There’s tremendous scope for rugby league to take a leap forward and to give more kids than even before the chance to chase the dream of playing for the One New Zealand Warriors.”
George said as well as creating football opportunities, the Warriors and PAC had a shared goal to enhance the club’s connection with Pasifika and Māori communities.
In a Facebook post, Auckland Niue Rugby League said was a “historic day for Māori/Pasifika Rugby League communities in New Zealand in this landmark partnership with an NRL Club.
“Fakaaue lahi mahaki to all our past/present players, supporters, coaches, managers, trainers, matuas, komiti members, external stakeholders, sponsors for your support,” he said.