'Poppy' jerseys honour past members

By Shauni James

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DEDICATION: Te Arawa kaumatua Reverend Bob Schuster (front left) with players Joe Savage (front right), Sioeli Alofi (back left) and Ma'ake Taulahi, wearing the special jerseys.
DEDICATION: Te Arawa kaumatua Reverend Bob Schuster (front left) with players Joe Savage (front right), Sioeli Alofi (back left) and Ma'ake Taulahi, wearing the special jerseys.

WHAKAREWAREWA RUGBY Club's premier team will wear special jerseys at their game today in honour of past club members who fought in World War II.

The team is dedicating the game to the club members who went away as part of the 28th Maori Battalion.

Club president Rob Schuster Rika said the club went into recess at the time because a lot of its players went away to war. The recess lasted about four to five years and there were a few who did not return.

The special jerseys were a way to pay homage to them, he said.

Most of the members had been based around the Whakarewarewa Village and surrounding community.

The club's normal jerseys are red and black hooped stripes, but today the team will be wearing a special style to resemble the poppy.

They were designed by artist Tawhanga Rika.

He said it was a club initiative it had been wanting to do for a while.

With sponsorship from family, club members and club sponsors they were able to do it this year, Mr Schuster Rika said.

He said families assembled in the early hours of the morning at the Whakarewarewa bridge by the memorial archway each year on Anzac Day to remember men who went to war. "The club wanted to do something a little extra and dedicate this game to them as well."

It was a huge honour for the club to represent and honour the men, "even just for the 80 minutes of the game", as they made sacrifices for their people, Mr Schuster Rika said.

They hope to take the dedication through into the future, whether it be another game or a whole day dedicated, and to get their children involved.

"It would be awesome to have them running around in jerseys dedicated to these men as well."


DETAILS


The Whakarewarewa premier team play Tauranga Sports at Puarenga Park, Rotorua. Kick off is 2.45pm.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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