LEAGUE - League runs in families

By Peter Thorley

Chances are that the Takahiwai Rugby League Club's 75th jubilee will be something of a family affair this weekend.
Family names such as Pirihi, Mackie, Pitman, Kepa and Johnson were present in the original 1932 team and their descendants are still representing Takahiwai today.
"These families amongst others were the pioneers, if you like, of the club and like many people in the club, I was introduced to the club through family lines," the current club president Dave Milner said.
Like many others who play their rugby league at Takahiwai, Milner was born into the game. He has spent some time recently, in anticipation of the festivities this weekend, finding out more about the Takahiwai club's history as a rugby league force in the region.
"I've been spending time in the library tracking down cuttings of the old games and it looks like Takahiwai and Hikurangi have been the big teams over the years."
He said the game took hold at Takahiwai in 1932 after a demonstration game of rugby league was held at the rugby fields at the marae.
"League became the game after that, even though the clubrooms were an old nikau hut and the changing sheds were in the marae," he said.
The club has a gone long way since then and has had three players to rise through the representative ranks to wear the Kiwi jersey, with Pat White and Trevor Chetham in the 1960s and Jason Mackie in the 1990s reaching the elite level of the game. There have also been numerous junior Kiwis from the club over the years.
Former player Shane Hool is this year's coach and one of the things he will teach the young team is footballing lessons from the past.
Having pride in their jersey is certainly one of the reasons Takahiwai have been around for as long as they have and that has been reintroduced this year.
Deane Tuhoro has captained the side well so far this year and is another young man with family ties: His grandfather Manu Epiha, although with Portland early in his life, was a supporter, patron and life member of Takahiwai for many years before passing away in 2002.

In fact Manu is well represented by three grandsons - Deane Tuhoro, Manu Tuhoro and Kyle Hool - in this year's team.
Takahiwai will take on their old rival Portland in two matches tomorrow.
The first will involve a `blast from the past' with masters players from both clubs showing the skills.
The second match - between the Takahiwai Warriors and the Portland Panthers - is the only Whangarei and Districts Rugby League fixture to go ahead this weekend.
About 200 people are expecting to attend the festivities over this weekend, with registration starting at 6pm tonight.
After tomorrow's matches, there is an aftermatch function and feast with the formal banquet scheduled for Sunday.
* GATHERING OF PLAYERS PAST AND PRESENT: From left are Deane Tuhoro (current captain), Terrance Pirihi, Kyle Hool, Ted Erceg, David Milner (current chairman), Wi Pirihi (seated), and Harry Clyde (sponsor).

- Northern Advocate

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