Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Canterbury Pasifika Volleyball, Ready to Serve

Photo: Canterbury Pasifika Volleyball (Facebook)
Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air
Photo: Canterbury Pasifika Volleyball (Facebook)
Photo: Canterbury Pasifika Volleyball (Facebook)
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Neueli Mauafu | Reporter

It is quite evident that our Pacific youth and athletes have a knack for natural talent in sports.

Despite these natural gifts, our young athletes from an early age struggle to find proper pathways to guide their development through their respected sport. Canterbury Pasifika Volleyball believe that they are the answer to this solution.

Established in 2021, CPV gained momentum with ongoing discussions relating to volley development through the Pasifika community of Christchurch. Heading these early discussions with Volleyball New Zealand was Enoka Taufua, who is also the President of CPV.

Enoka says, after discussions with Volleyball New Zealand at a Pasifika advisory group meeting mid way through 2021, he, alongside colleagues Mike Fanolua, Joanna Tusa, started to think about how they could support their own community in Canterbury through volleyball.

“Within a couple of months, we assembled a strong group of keen and willing members and started planning our goals and values that sit as the foundation of Canterbury Pasifika Volleyball”

The search for a full team began as well as the development of goals and plans to get the ball rolling. Recruitment was underway to find a full fledged team, resulting in the creation of the CPV board.

“Our board is made up of 9 members. We are very fortunate to have the service of incredible members that have a wealth of knowledge and experience in all facets of volleyball both locally and nationally”, says Enoka.

The board were clear from the start on the objectives, to grow the game within the Pasifika community in Christchurch. A focal point was placed on high schools, and what they could do to harness young Pasifika talent, making a mark in the National Schools Champs scene.

“Our key goal is to grow the game within our community. We all know that our people love volleyball. This is evident in the numbers playing at secondary school level as well as the regular community competitions that take place here in Christchurch.”

CPV also provides assistance to players who finish from high school and want to continue in the sport throughout their career.

“We also see an opportunity for the game to grow at the ‘Masters’ level (30 years and up). So many of our Pasifika athletes stop playing after high school”

“We would love to implement initiatives that bring these players back, even if at a social level. The impact of increasing player numbers, in this age group alone, will have a positive impact on the physical health and wellbeing of our people”, Enoka says.

President Enoka Taufua. Photo: Canterbury Pasifika Volleyball Facebook
President Enoka Taufua. Photo: Canterbury Pasifika Volleyball Facebook

Enoka, a full time teacher and volleyball coach at Shirley High in Christchurch, believes volleyball has always been a part of him.

His love for the sport continued to grow when he began his high school journey. It became the identity for his school as volley was the ‘thing to do’. This became an embedded connection to him as he began to pour out that same love into coaching and growing the game for future Pasifika players.

“I started playing because that was the thing to do. By the end of my time there I had travelled the width and length of the country, met some amazing players and coaches, and picked up a passion for coaching that directed me to a career in teaching.”

“It was a humbling way to grow up. I have taken a lot of my experiences as a player into my coaching where the emphasis is on coaching an experience and not coaching for a result,” says Enoka

Some of the challenges that CPV came across in the early development of their group was that only a small number of Pasifika students were taking part in the sport.

This was caused in part by Pasifika dominated schools not having enough resources to kick start a volleyball program. The sport itself is a minnow in Christchurch compared to the bigger games like rugby and netball.

For many Pasifika students, growing up in their cultural surroundings meant that they have other responsibilities outside of sports. These commitments were another reason for students to not take volleyball seriously within school and eventually drop out of the sport.

Thankfully for CPV, their whole scheme has been set up to deal with cultural and personal issues and how it can be balanced with volleyball commitments. Enoka explains that during their high school initiative, they conducted a survey and asked students to identify barriers that stop them from playing volleyball.

“The findings showed that family commitments and work commitments sat at the top of this list followed by the costs involved in playing. These answers were of no shock to us, as we empathise with this as Pasifika people”

“However, it highlighted the importance of what we can offer as CPV. The opportunities to provide a space outside of what is readily available that meets the specific needs of our people both culturally and through the sport of volleyball. We are truly honoured to be in this position”, Enoka says.

Photo: Canterbury Pasifika Volleyball (Facebook)
Photo: Canterbury Pasifika Volleyball (Facebook)

Moving forward, Enoka and his team are ready to roll into the year with planned projects and initiatives to combat the 2022 volleyball season. Enoka highlights what makes these programs unique and says it is the cultural twist influenced in them.

“What I particularly enjoyed about this initiative was that everything about it was uniquely Pasifika. From prayer circles, music, che-hooo’ing, to shared food, it all contributed to a genuine Pasifika feel that the students appreciated and enjoyed”.

The same Pasifika feel will be incorporated heavily in 2022 as CPV pushes forward for their plan. A weekly competition is aimed to start this year which targets mainly those who are competing at the club level. The high school programmes will also continue with its new modifications.

“We will continue with a programme for high school students, introducing a beach volleyball module to expand the skill level of our young people”.

“There is a big need for qualified refs especially in the organised Pasifika community tournaments. Providing an avenue to train referees will enhance the experience of players and take the level of play and understanding of the game to the next level”

You can learn more about Canterbury Pasifika Volleyball and their journey here

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