Eighteen months after their first E Tū Whānau hui, the young pakeke of Pikiao have taken the kaupapa of their beloved sports club to a new, and very positive, level.
Ranui and Porky Parata describe the change they have seen in their community in this video.
Pikiao is a small, sports-mad iwi centred on Mourea Marae in the Bay of Plenty.
League is still their most popular code but a generational shift in attitudes to sport and relationships – with tamariki, between men and women, and between men themselves – is creating an inclusive, whānau-focussed club culture.
A second E Tū Whānau hui, held in November 2018, saw a core group of players and supporters accept the wero laid down by coach Porky Parata and his wife Ranui to be the kahukura, the leaders, their club needs and deserves.
They’ve kicked the after-match heavy drinking sessions to touch and they’ve encouraged wāhine to leave the side-lines and start their own women’s league team. They’ve grown the club membership by making the clubhouse and its surroundings safe for everyone and by welcoming people outside of the tight Pikiao clan who share their whānau-centred values.
Being the best they can be
This group of smart young people decided to look honestly at their own behaviours and at what they expect of themselves and each other. Most importantly, they’re committed to being the best parents, uncles and aunties that they can be, for their tamariki and the future of Pikiao itself.
One of them is Tui Yates.
“The E Tū Whānau hui were heaps of help. They gave us something to think about and to work off.”
Tui is Pikiao born and bred. Like most of her friends, she grateful for the loving upbringing her parents gave her but she wants more for the new generation of tamariki.
“We’re getting more whānau orientated but it can be better, and it will be as we get more support from our own. Gotta change some old people’s mind-sets,” she says with a grin.
Rikihana Te Rangi is captain of the Pikiao senior league team and the 2018 Player of the Year.
“When were young it was normal for our parents to go to the club and drink after a match or training session. We’d be sitting around outside, waiting and watching. The difference now is that if we do have a drink we take the kids to the club with us and make sure they’re sorted. And we don’t get pissed.”
Rugby League captain Rikihana Te Rangi talks about the change.
Te Oriwa Ahuriri is Rikihana’s partner and mother of their three girls.
“Lots has changed in the last 18 months,” says Te Oriwa.
“It used to be all about the men. They’d go to practice and hang out with each and the wives were at home looking after the kids. Well, we wanted whānau to do things together so we invited women to come along and train with their men.
“A happy wife is a happy life,” quips Rikihana.
Keeping tamariki connected
Most of the tamariki born to this current group of young Pikiao parents are girls and Rikihana knows that a competitive women’s team is vital if they are to keep their tamariki connected to the game, and the club, he loves.
And Rikihana does love his league. He plays hard and he plays to win.
“Off field, we’re all good friends but for 80 minutes I try and put all my anger and aggression into beating the other team. When the game’s over, we’re back to friends again.
“Winning means too much to me personally. If I fail, I fail Pikiao. I fail the iwi.”
Te Oriwa is clearly proud of Rikihana for his sporting prowess, his leadership skills and the strides he’s made to be less aggressive, and smarter, on the field.
“Once he became captain he had to step up and become more positive. I told him, if he wanted to be a leader, he had to act like one.”
Rikihana is also pleased about the way things are going for his own whānau, for the team and for the club as a whole.
“You can stay in that old way but it’s not getting you anywhere and it’s not drawing new people to the club. We want to grow this club and keep it growing, for us and for future generations.”
Picking up positive values
Porky and Ranui are inspired and excited by the way this generation has picked up the positive values discussed at the first E Tū Whānau hui in November 2017.
They’ve seen the women grow in confidence and the men rise to new challenges.
“The dads are definitely softening up. We didn’t see it straight away but it’s like they talked it all over as bros and really thought about it what was best for their tamariki and their whānau,” says Ranui.
Last year’s Christmas party was a great example of this new attitude in action.
“The young ones did everything – the planning, the shopping, the catering, the cleaning up. It was alcohol free and it all revolved around the kids. There were mocktails, present, treats and games. The tamariki were made to feel so special.”
The positive vibe is drawing more supporters to the club.
“Before we began the E Tū Whānau journey, if any of our mums and kids saw any trouble at the club they leave straight away and wouldn’t come back. But that’s changed now.”
Ranui gives another practical example of how the change is taking root deep within the culture of the club.
“Some patched gang members turning up at the club grounds a recent league day. There was no aggro. Our boys didn’t yell at them or want to fight with them. They just made it clear that, ‘no, that’s not us’ and, after a bit, the visitors turned around and left.
“To me, that’s a massive step forward.”