New Zealand's secondary schools rugby league competition, due to be played next week, has been cancelled amid the current measles outbreak.

In Auckland, more than 750 cases of measles had been confirmed as of midday today. The tournament was to be held in Takanini.

New Zealand Rugby League scrapped the tournament after seeking medical advice, chief executive Greg Peters said.

"We understand people may be disappointed by our decision and we apologise for any inconvenience caused; however, the welfare of our players and all involved in the tournament comes first."


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Held at Pulman Park between Monday and Friday next week, 26 schools from across the country were set to take part in the tournament.

It was not appropriate for the tournament to go ahead because the vaccination status of the participants was uncertain, NZRL medical advisory head Dr John Mayhew said.

The outbreak, which started in January, had swept the nation with Counties Manukau the hardest hit with at least 500 confirmed cases.

New New Zealand Rugby League chief executive Greg Peters. Photo / File
New New Zealand Rugby League chief executive Greg Peters. Photo / File

This morning, the Herald reported several South Auckland schools had asked children to stay home if they were not vaccinated.

There was a concern measles could spread further afield ahead of the School Sport NZ's annual winter tournament next week.

About 25,000 secondary school students are due to take part in the tournament, which is held at multiple venues across the North and South Islands.

College Sport Auckland has asked its 110 secondary schools to check the vaccination records of all students before they go.


Tournament week organisers had been working closely with School Sport New Zealand around the outbreak, chief executive Garry Carnachan said.

"Rugby league identified a number of circumstances unique to their event that they thought posed a significant risk.

"We also had a number of schools contacting us saying they had a number of unimmunised students and would struggle to start a team."

Yesterday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called for parents to vaccinate their children.

"The smartest, safest thing to do is to be vaccinated.

"My strong advice to anyone is make sure that you are vaccinated, make sure that you're not relying on simply not having contact."

Ardern, who said her own baby Neve was up to date with her vaccinations, said she was worried about those who choose not to get immunised.

The public was told they should stay home if they are unwell with the symptoms of measles, an Auckland Regional Public Health Service spokesperson said.

"The service is not advising that people stay away from events or that these be cancelled.

"People should, however, remain at home if they have been told to be in quarantine, even if they are feeling well.

"With the measles virus circulating around Auckland, people can catch the virus in any public space or from people they know."

People aged 50 or over are considered to be immune to measles. Everyone else aged over 12 should be immunised with at least one MMR vaccination.

Symptoms of measles include fevers, runny noses, a cough, sore red eyes or rashes.