New Zealand Rugby launch multi-year Pasifika strategy

New Zealand Rugby (NZR) and its Pasifika Advisory Group (NZR Tausoa Fa’atasi) celebrated the launch of a multi-year Pasifika strategy at an event in Auckland today.

The NZR Pasifika Strategy 2024-2029 aims to create more equitable opportunities for Pasifika at all levels of the game, and is the first known of its kind to be developed by a national sports organisation anywhere in the world.

NZR Chair Dame Patsy Reddy said the organisation is focused on enhancing environments that are prepared to embrace Pasifika and their values.

“This strategy represents our collection of visions and aspirations for Pasifika in rugby. It is our committment to see environments where Pacific people can flourish and ensure our sport is responding to the specific needs of the Pasifika community.”

Reddy acknowledged the underrepresentation of Pasifika in off-field roles was a significant focus for the strategy.  

“Pasifika have made an immense contribution to rugby in New Zealand, particularly on the field. The strategy is tasked with supporting New Zealand Rugby and wider rugby community to provide a range of pathways for Pasifika on and off the field,” Reddy said.

The strategy is based on four pillars (pou): Kelekele (preparing the soil), Totō (planting the seed), Tubu (growing our Pasifika people) and Lalanga (strengthening the shared vision of NZR and Pasifika people).

The theme for the strategy is derived from the process of planting and nurturing pandanus plants, representing the goal of seeing non-Pasifika and Pasifika connect effectively and weave worldviews into rugby.  

NZR Tausoa Fa’atasi Co-Chair and NZR Emerging Director Pauline-Jean Luyten said it was vital the strategy development was led by the Pasifika community.

“NZR is showing it can do things differently and the co-design process was that point of difference. Being Pasifika-led is a step toward rebalancing the vaka and nurturing the vā (the relational space between people or groups), ensuring we feel valued and belong in the rugby system. This strategy is about us and has been crafted with us.” 

The consultation process saw over 20,000 hours of voluntary work and feedback from professional and community Pasifika players, their families, coaches, referees, directors and administrators across Provincial Unions and clubs.

“Faka Malo ‘aupito (thank you) to our kāinga (family) and communities who were involved with the consultation process. Your shared lived experiences were integral to the strategy’s development. We also acknowledge our non-Pasifika for their open hearts and desire to work as a collective,” Luyten said.

Alongside the strategy, NZR and Tausoa Fa’atasi (Pasifika Advisory Group) have co-designed an action plan outlining the organisation’s commitments to implementing the strategy in 2024.

These commitments are based on the first pou (Kelekele, preparing the soil) to set the strategy up for long-term success. The Pasifika Strategy will also inform the development of annual action plans for NZR through to 2029.

NZR Pasifika Engagement Manager Saveatama Eroni Clarke said now is the time to improve the experiences of Pasifika by ensuring rugby environments will properly support the growth.

“For many years Pasifika have made a significant impact towards on-field success and I am thankful for our trailblazers who have paved the way. I’m so proud of this achievement, it’s a historic moment for our Pasifika rugby communities. I am excited to witness the outcome of this strategy and see our people pursue their aspirations.”

The NZR Pasifika Strategy will act as a guide for all Provincial Unions, Super Clubs and clubs to inform their own efforts for greater diversity and inclusion, with the support of NZR.

Read the full Pasifika Strategy 2024-2029 document and NZR’s 2024 Action Plan here.