The Te Puna Rugby Football Club is like another marae in their community.

Chairman Charles Kuka says with four marae in the Te Puna area, the club is where families from each of them, and beyond come together.

"This club is like the fifth marae. We've got four marae in Te Puna in our area, this one we call it the fifth marae and it's where everyone is equal," Charles said.

Charles' last name, Kuka, is one that is synonymous with the club and will be heard plenty this weekend, during the club's centenary celebrations.


The celebrations started last night, with a formal welcome at the club, followed by a blessing, a youth rugby game and some netball before entertainment.

Today is the start of the first full-day of the event and will get under way with a past-march and flag-raising followed by plenty of men's and women's rugby games and netball.

Tomorrow, he said, would be the main event tomorrow, including formalities, the cutting of the cake with invited guests and plenty of stories.

This weekend has been about five years in the making, with a huge amount of planning, Charles says 370 are confirmed for Sunday's events, but is expecting about 1000 through the gates over the weekend.

The clubrooms will be transformed into a mini museum, acknowledging all those who have been part of the club over the 100 years.

"It's got all the old photos right from the 20s, 30s, 40s right up to the current teams and it's going to be a lot of interesting reading and a lot of reminiscing, all the teams and all the players that have passed on as well, you know the ones that have missed out and the ones who would have loved to have been here unfortunately gone, we will always remember them," Charles says.

"Right through the whole weekend we'll have members, life members, kaumatua, they'll be all around," he said.

Some of those working behind the scenes at this weekend's centenary celebrations. Photo / Andrew Warner
Some of those working behind the scenes at this weekend's centenary celebrations. Photo / Andrew Warner

It will also be a weekend of celebrating the sport they love, with their Te Puna Rugby Club family.


Among the attendees will also be a delegation from France, coming to celebrate with the club that visited them during the last Rugby World Cup.

Charles said most of those from Te Puna have French connections and were excited to open their club to the about 40-member group, who were staying at a local marae while here.

They will also play a game of rugby against a Te Puna Over 50s team.

"The whole day [today] will be full of rugby games and then there's entertainment for the kids and bouncy castles and stuff for the kids as well," he said.

"An invitational game that we play against our premier side and the invitation side, which involves a couple of players from each club around Tauranga, that's going to be the main game."

The club's centenary year has really been one to celebrate.

Their Baywide competition season was the best they've experienced, beating Tauranga Sports in the final to claim their first Premier title. It was one of three they scooped this season, also taking the Premier Development and Senior Reserves crowns.

Last week the accolades kept coming, winning the Club of the Year at the Bay of Plenty Rugby Awards.

Premier head coach Aidan Kuka also won the Club Coach of the Year award for his work in leading his premier side to their first Baywide championship title; standout player in the Baywide premier final, Te Puna's Rewita Biddle, was also named the Male Club Player of the Year; and club chairman Charles Kuka was one of five recipients of the Bay of Plenty Service to Sport award.

The day later, Te Puna Rugby Club was named a finalist for the Sport Bay of Plenty Club of the Year award.

"It's huge for the community, for the kids and everybody where we've come from to now, it's been a marvellous journey."

Charles, who has been chairman of the club for six years, says everyone is proud of their club and how far it has progressed.

"Back when I was playing it was a real family orientated club. You had the likes of the Bidois, the Borrells, Tangitus, Tuhakarainas and the Kukas," he said of the club that he first started playing for around 1981.

"It was based around a lot of those families and we struggled and struggled for years, we managed to hold it together and carry on. We may have lost a lot more than we won but we just stuck it out, we hung tough and [thought] we'll get though this and our time will come and sure enough, in the last five or so years it's just started to happen for us. We're just so over the moon about it."

The 57-year-old has had a long involvement with the club, first representing the club as a player for the colts. He also played Senior Reserves, Senior Reserves A and the Premier teams, before hanging up his boots at 43. He's also coached, now focusing on the administration of the club.

"It's great to be part of," he said.

"Unfortunately age catches up with you but hopefully I'm going to have a run with the over 50s on Saturday."