Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Kava sessions and culture connections for Ardie Savea in Japan

Photo (elements): Kobelco Kobe Steelers.
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Neueli Mauafu | Reporter

“Kava is a vehicle or a vessel for us to come together and connect” Ardie Suemalo Savea.

He may be one of the biggest rugby stars in the world, but Ardie Suemalo Savea is taking a lowkey persona this year.

After being named World Rugby Player of the Year last year following their loss in the RWC 2023 final, Savea made the move to Japan to continue his playing with club Kobelco Kobe Steelers.

The move has been somewhat of a new perspective for Savea who admits that he is only focused on doing his duty for the Steelers in Japan.

“I have just kept away from New Zealand rugby and just enjoying my time here in Japan,” he said.

“I pretty much just follow the boys with the Hurricanes and Bus (Julian Savea) playing for Moana”.

Photos: Retrieved from Ardie Savea’s Instagram.

Being away from home has been challenging for Savea, but being able to connect with other players from across different cultures in his team has kept him rooted in his cultural belonging.

The 30 year old will often hold kava/ava sessions with his teammates as a way of connecting with each other after a tiring day on the rugby pitch.

“Kava is a vehicle or a vessel for us to come together and connect,” he said.

“We sometimes forget that a lot of us boys are away from families, and even some of the pacific boys have been here since university days”

“So it’s always special to come together, have a laugh and connect and even check in on each other without even knowing”.

Photo: ASICS.

While being based in Japan, Savea was able to successfully launch his new rugby boot in collaboration with sports brand ASICS

It’s a project in which he believes is an ode to his Samoan culture and heritage and in memory of the sacrifices his parents made for their family.

“It represents the people of Samoa but also my parents and family”.

“It’s a highlight of my career so far and probably is my favourite project so far. People see the fruits of it now but it’s kind of has been six years in the making and building a relationship with ASICS”

“Being able to bring something that represents not only my culture and other peoples polynesian cultures too, which is a space I think really needs more representation and acknowledgement”.

Photo: Kobelco Kobe Steelers.

While being rooted in his own Samoan and pacific culture, Savea has also been learning about Japanese culture.

“What’s really filled my cup is coming here and learning the Japanese culture, and language”

“It’s been the most refreshing feeling for me coming in here feeling young and new in the team but then also learning and sharing my knowledge to the Japanese boys in terms of rugby”.

“That is what is rewarding for me,” said Savea.

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