Good coaching is about developing a lifelong love of sport in people and, in a commitment to seeing the quality and number of coaches grow in Northland, the Northern Advocate has teamed up with Sport Northland to publish a question-and-answer feature on one local coach per month.

The aim is to highlight coaches from an array of codes to give an insight into the nuances of coaching and the people who dedicate themselves to the discipline.

The ninth coach profile is Northland Mitre 10 Cup assistant coach Tui Raeli, a man passionate about supporting Northern Wairoa and Northland as a region.
Name: Tui Raeli

Age: 45


Hometown: Dunedin

Sport: Rugby

Occupation: Ruawai College assistant principal

Current coaching role: Northland Mitre 10 Cup assistant coach

Playing background: I played as a New Zealand School age-grade rugby rep, Otago Rugby rep, Otago 7s and 10s rep, as well as playing professional rugby in Japan and club rugby in the UAE. Nationally, I have appeared for club rugby teams across Dunedin, Wellington and Northland.

Tui Raeli (bottom left) with the Northland under-19 boys team of 2018. Photo / Supplied
Tui Raeli (bottom left) with the Northland under-19 boys team of 2018. Photo / Supplied

Coaching experience:

I've been coaching for 14 years starting with school teams, club rugby, Northland representative teams and now I have been given an opportunity with the Northland Taniwha.

Training/Qualifications: Bachelor of Physical Education from Otago University, Postgraduate Diploma in Secondary Teaching from Victoria University and a certified IRB Level 3 Rugby coach.


Favourite movie: A Turkish film called 'Miracle in Cell No.7' has finally toppled Forrest Gump as my favourite movie.

Favourite meal: Samoan traditional dishes, Mediterranean and Asian cuisine.

Why do you coach?

To share my passion and love for coaching, and assist others to discover and define their own success.

How did you get into coaching?

I started off working as a strength and conditioning trainer for my local Wellington club when I retired and helped with my school's rugby and league teams. I continued this when my family relocated back from abroad settling in Dargaville, where I began work as head of health and physical education at the local high school.

From there, I assisted a good friend with the Kaihu under-16 team and then onto the premier team for the Western Sharks RFC. This helped me stay involved in the game and gave me a chance to support up-and-coming talent in the area.

Tui Raeli (back, second from left) with his beloved Western Sharks at a sevens competition. Photo / Supplied
Tui Raeli (back, second from left) with his beloved Western Sharks at a sevens competition. Photo / Supplied

What has been your most memorable experience coaching?

A memorable grassroots moment was a couple of years back while coaching premier rugby in Northland. Our head coach and I had to take the field to make up numbers for our premier B team.

At halftime, we played paper-scissors-rock to see who would come off to prepare the premier team and undertake an interview with the Grassroots rugby television channel. Fortunately for me, I prevailed and happily made my way to the sheds as another 40 minutes of footy would have broken me.

Who has been the most influential coach/person in your life?

A special mention to my parents and family for their unwavering support given throughout my time involved with rugby. I would like to acknowledge and thank my high school junior coach and teacher at Kings High School, Grant Koedyk. His encouragement and mentoring helped me believe in my own abilities and gain the confidence to give rugby a good crack.

How has your coaching changed?

My coaching has adapted to meet the needs of those in front of me. For junior athletes, it has been about creating a fun and enjoyable environment using a combination of player inquiry through modified games and traditional instructions to refine players' knowledge and skills.

For senior athletes, it comprises the same elements but allowing players to have a degree of autonomy to determine what the team environment could look like. It's important to empower all participants to bring to the table their experiences, prior learning, and perspectives to enhance what your group is ultimately trying to achieve.

The growing use of technology to analyse performance and check for learning and understanding is another aspect of my coaching that has evolved.

Teaching is in Tui Raeli's (right) blood on and off the rugby field. Photo / Supplied
Teaching is in Tui Raeli's (right) blood on and off the rugby field. Photo / Supplied

How has sport changed?

There is a plethora of sport and recreational activities available for young people today and there seems to be a drift away from participation in traditional sports. The challenge for us will be finding ways to re-engage this demographic to stay in the game.

How sport will be run and look post-Covid-19 is going to be an interesting affair and I look forward to seeing the decision-making processes that will come out of this.

What has not changed is the life skills and friendships developed and nurtured in being part of organised sport or physical activity.

What is your number one coaching tip?

Be open to learning as this helps us grow, be well-planned and organised and never forget the power of the three Rs – relationships, relationships, relationships.