Seeing a rugby ball fly down a pitch is one of the most iconic Saturday morning sights in Aotearoa. It’s a game deeply embedded in New Zealand’s cultural fabric. It welcomes everyone, from grassroots through to our revered national team.
Super Rugby’s newest franchise, Moana Pasifika, is on a mission to champion Pasifika people and the communities the team represents. The team’s formation signifies the coming together of Pacific nations and cultures, working towards a common goal. A community connected by the ocean and the many islands of the Pacific. On and off the field, the players and management staff are representing their families, histories, and journeys. A responsibility and a privilege that they don’t take lightly.
It all started when the New Zealand Rugby Players’ Association proposed the idea of having a Pasifika team compete in the Super Rugby competition. From there, an impressive steering committee of distinguished Pasifika leaders, including the former Samoa Attorney General, Herman Retzlaff; former Tonga Attorney General, Aminiasi Kefu; former Pacific Business Trust CEO, Pelenato Sakalia; The Fono CEO, Tevita Funaki; Jerome Mika; and All Black legends, Sir Bryan Williams and Sir Michael Jones, was formed to table a bid with New Zealand Rugby for entry to the competition.
Meanwhile, Deloitte Private’s Doug Wilson and Pås Peau lead, Lisa Tai, were invited to help map out how a community rugby club could enter the big league and play against the likes of the Blues or the Crusaders. The vision was clear - to create a rugby franchise managed by a charitable trust that would not only compete against the established Super Rugby squads, but also create opportunities and better outcomes for the Pacific community.
The bid was successful and Moana Pasifika was granted entry for the 2022 Super Rugby Pacific season.
Behind the scenes, Lisa and Doug were connecting the steering committee into key rugby circles to accelerate Moana Pasifika’s learning towards operating in the rugby world, and to help kickstart critical campaigns that would enable them to build momentum and support for their season.
It was a roaring success. Moana Pasifika finished their debut campaign on a high with a massive win over the Brumbies in front of an enthralled Mt Smart Stadium.
And now the team and its players are paving the way for future generations, with the squad regularly visiting schools to present on health and participation in sport - leading by example and demonstrating the power of sport and education in personal and professional development.
“This project is an amazing example of our people living the Deloitte shared value of mahitahi (collaborate for measurable impact), with a combined effort across our Financial Advisory and Risk Advisory business units,” says Lisa. “The impact of this work has been evident, with the Moana Pasifika Steering Committee relaying their deep gratitude for Deloitte’s support to date.”
Deloitte partner, Doug remarks, “Moana Pasifika is focused on providing pathways for players so they can enter the world stage of rugby and represent their home nations. Just as the ocean connects us, it creates new opportunities. For many, sport has been the wave that carries people and creates success beyond just what happens on the pitch. For Moana Pasifika, the vision isn’t just to score tries, it’s to be a wave that lifts everyone in the community.”
"For many, sport has been the wave that carries people and creates success beyond just what happens on the pitch. For Moana Pasifika, the vision isn’t just to score tries, it’s to be a wave that lifts everyone in the community.” - Doug Wilson, Deloitte Private partner