Rugby star leads anti-smoking campaign

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Ex Bay of Plenty rugby player, Matua Parkinson.
Ex Bay of Plenty rugby player, Matua Parkinson.

A father's advice to his son enabled him to travel the world playing rugby and to embark on a successful media career.

So says former Maori All Black and television presenter Matua Parkinson in the lead-up to World Smokefree Day 2014 on May 31.

"If you want to be anything in life don't smoke, it's as simple as that. When I was a kid that's what my father told me, that smoking was no good for me and would lead nowhere," says the 36-year-old, who was the youngest of five children.

"He was adamant about it and because of that advice I travelled the world playing rugby and am now exploring New Zealand presenting Hunting Aotearoa. I know I wouldn't be where I am, doing what I am, if I was a smoker. It's about fitness for life. If you want to be a better sportsmen, hunter - or whatever your passion is - you'll only fulfil your potential if you don't smoke.

"I just want to be able to give as many youngsters as possible that same advice.

And if they do smoke, simply ask them why?"

Parkinson, whose playing career included selection for New Zealand Maori being the World Champion New Zealand Sevens team captain and playing for Auckland Blues, is promoting the smokefree message in his role as a Board member at the Bay of Plenty District Health Board.

He said the message wasn't just about elite sport but that smoking impacted on all areas of life including leisure pursuits.

"There are a lot of youngsters passionately involved with hunting these days. It's hard work up and down those hills, running through gorse and undergrowth, and if you're not fit it could be the difference between your pig dog being badly injured or even killed if you arrive too late."

The father-of-three, who was born in Te Kaha and now lives in Tauranga with wife Cheri, called on parents to lead by example - just as his father Reuben had - and show their children the right way to live.

Parkinson is acting as MC at 'Presenting our WERO Whanau and Life's Alternatives to Smoking' on Saturday May 31st at Firman Field, Kawerau. The event, celebrating World Smokefree Day, runs from 10am-3pm.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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