Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air
Click here for Te reo translation
Everyone's a winner when whakawhanaungatanga is the ultimate prize.
That's how it is for Richard Sobels who proudly wears Pikiao rugby league colours in Rockingham, Western Australia.
Wearing the Pikiao colours is a privilege for Richie and keeps alive the connections to Otaramarae and home. The full-time landscaper is passionate about his league the focus of which is the Harmony Cup.
The cup is run by a committee of like-minded enthusiastic amateurs.
There is no structured competition, only the opportunity to participate in the game they love.
The Harmony Cup season brings players together for just a couple of months a year.
"When we started it was a chance to connect with whanau. We caught up with whanau who left home years and years ago.
"We just wanted to play league and we used to have pa war games.
"Our little community attracted similar communities in the greater Perth area."
That included players from Tonga and Fiji as well as indigenous Australians.
"Ngati Kahungunu players in our team decided to set up their own teams. Things like that happened."
Richard and his partner Bianca moved with their four children to Western Australia in 2012. There is huge demand for his work skills and the company he works for covers all aspects of landscaping from paving and artificial turf, limestone walls and pool installation.
The work is mostly residential but includes some commercial.
He and his whānau are well settled in their home, 40km south of central Perth. The covid pandemic has had little effect on them "we have our own circle of friends."
However, it did delay the Harmony Cup by three or four months.
While the Harmony Cup is a 9s format amateur competition Richie thinks it could be a pathway to greater things in league either in Australia or overseas even the United Kingdom or France.
"I think that's the next step. We would like to keep the avenues open for our rangatahi."
Pikiao Rugby League in Rockingham started in 2019.
"We couldn't do this without the backing of Ngati Pikiao back home.
"Big shout out to Uncle Matene Mihaka for his support right from the start. We communicated back and forth by Messenger to help set up our organisation here.
"Without his support from the Pikiao Rugby League Club we would never have got off the ground."
The Western Australian movement has nine teams — from masters men's and women's to 16-year-old boys and girls.
At the beginning Ngati Pikiao provided money for kit and fees. Nowadays, the Australian group are able to pay their own way.
Fundraising is done by whānau who help how and when they can. It's a team effort.
Richie encourages members of different iwi to set up their own teams to keep that whakawhanaungatanga going.
Curiosity about his name prompted the writer to ask where it came from.
"I'm actually Samoan. My adoptive parents and my sister went to Samoa on a forestry contract and my biological mother was their housemaid. She was pregnant with me at the time.
"My sister [Janice Fraser] said they should take the baby. My biological mother said if it's a boy they could take me. I was born and the adoption papers were signed."
The Sobels separated after they returned to New Zealand and Richie was raised by his mother, Tiki Dixie Vercoe, at Otaramarae. She died in 2014.
Te reo translation
Ko te whakawhanaungatanga te kahu whakaihuwaka ka utaina ki ngā pakihiwi o te iwi.
E ai te whakaaro o Richard Sobels e mau ana i tōna tī-hāte rīki Pikiao he ahakoa kai Rockingham i Ahitereiria ki te hiwa e noho ana. Nā tēnā pūeru ōna e ora tonu ai te herenga ki tōna iwi whānui, ā, me tōna ahi kā kai ngā koko o Ōtaramarae.
He tangata whakaahua-taiao tana mahi engari ko te ao o te rīki tāna e matapoporetia ana mātua ko te aro ki te kapu Harmony. He taonga whakahirahira kai te manaakingia e te hunga kai-ngākau nui ana ki te rīki. Pēnei i a ia.
Kāre kau ana he tino tikanga mō te whakataetae nei, ko te hau noa atu ki te pūrei te whāinga nui. Nā tēnei whakataetae ka whakatōpūngia katoatia ai ngā toki pūrei rīki ki a kotahi mai mō ētehi wāhanga ruarua noa iho o te wāhanga pūrei rīki."
Ko te timatanga ake o tēnei whakataetae he whakaaro whakakōtahi i ngā tini whānaunga ko te hunga kai kōnei e mahi ana, ko tō mātou tino hiahia ko te pūrei rīki, i whakatahangia noa atu e mātou ngā whakataetae pakanga-ā-pā nei, iwhoi anō he ahakoa he itiiti tō mātou hāpori kua whakatata mai ētehi atu nō ngā tōpito huhua o Perth".
Nā ko te hunga pēnei i te iwi o Tonga, Whītī me ngā iwi taketake ake o Ahitereiria. " Ka puta a Ngāti Kahungunu ki te whakatū i tō rātou ake tīma – whoi anō rā!".
Ka hūnuku atu a Richard me tana wahine a Bianca ki Ahitereiria i te tau e rua mano kotahi mā rua. Ka nui te hiahiatia ki ngā mātanga pēnei i a ia e mātau nui ana ki te ao o te whakaahua taiao me ōna wāhanga huhua noa atu. Ko te nuinga o tana mahi kai ngā hāpori ētehi taima ka peka atu ki te ao arumoni.
Kua tau te noho a tana whānau ki tō rātou kāinga he wha tekau kiromita te tawhiti whakatetonga mai i te puku o Perth. Kāre e tino karawhiua rātou e te mate urutā " he tokoiti noa o mātou hoa tata".
Engari kē te whakataetae Harmony nei i moe kau mō ngā mārama e toru.
He kēmu taki iwa te whakataetae a Harmony mā te hunga runaruna engari pea he huarahi ki tētehi ao rīki nui ki ngā whenua kē atu i Ahitereiria pēnei i a Ingarangi me te whenua o Wīwī."
Koina te pae e whāia nei e tātou he huarahi tuku atu i te rangatahi". Ko te karapu rīki o Pikiao he mea i whakatūria i te tau e rua mano e rua tekau, nā reira he tauhou tonu." Me whakaengia tēnei kaupapa ka tahi e te iwi kāinga nā reira taku whakamihi atu ki a Matene Mihaka nāna nei tātou i akiaki.
He mea whakawhiti kōrero mā te karere nui o Pukamata. Koina i whai huruhuru ai tēnei waka.
"Me i kore te hau kāinga kua hemo noa atu tēnei moemoeā". Tokoiwa ngā tīma o Ahitereiria ki te hiwa – ko te reanga mata-a-whiro tāne mai me te mātua wāhine tae atu ki ngā tau kotahi tekau mā ono tamatāne mai, tamawāhine mai. I te timatanga nā Ngāti Pikiao mātou i nama kia ea ai ngā nama nui, engari kua pakeke mātou inaianei kua whai huruhuru mātou.
He māmā noa iho te whakatū rā pena pūtea, kohi pūtea me te hiahia hoki o te whānau ki te amo a pūtea nei te hunga rangatahi, nā te mea kai tō mātou hāpori ngā pākihi pakari ka tāea tēnei āhuatanga e tātou. He kaha hoki nō Richard ki te whakaakiaki i ngā mema ki te whakatū tīma motuhake e ora ai te wairua o te whakawhanaungatanga.
Nā te āhuatanga o tōna ingoa i rere atu ai te pātai ki a ia nō whea te ingoa nā? " Nō te moutere o Hāmoa kē taku whakapapa. I haere pēnā atu ōku mātua whakaangi ki te mahi kirimana ngāhere ā ko tōku māmā tūturu tā rātou pou hāpai ā whare e hapū ana i ahau i taua wā.
"Ka kī atu taku tuahine ki ngā matua, pai ke atu kia hāria atu ahau, ka kī atu taku māmā me ka whānau mai he tama, haria atu!".
"Hōtō ka whānau mai ahau, ka hainatia ngā pepa whāngai kua mana te whakaaro".
Ka tōtara wāhie rua ngā matua i tā rātou hokitanga mai ki Aotearoa nei. I hemo atu tōna māmā a Tiki Vercoe i te tau e rua mano kotahi tēkau mā wha.
Whoi anō rā te kōrero whakamāua te pae tata ki a tata ko te pae tawhiti whakamaua ki tīnā!