Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

‘Our wāhine should have autonomy’: Auckland Rugby League call for urgent action for Papatoetoe club

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Local Democracy Reporting | Free Public Interest News Service

Auckland Rugby League (ARL) is calling on local council to better support Papatoetoe players where they say females can’t access essential facilities and players are using some of the “the worst fields in the city”.

ARL club development officer Mark Craig told the Ōtara-Papatoetoe Local Board that the Papatoetoe Panthers urgently need better facilities, especially for the safety of its female players.

Panthers chairperson Carla Makiha told the board: “Our wāhine should have their own autonomy at our club – it’s 2024.

“Girls are changing in public toilets or covered in mud because changing rooms are full.” 

Makiha says the club is concerned about female athletes who don’t have their own changing rooms as existing infrastructure is failing to keep up with the club’s growth. Photo: Supplied

The club is based at Kohuora Park in Papatoetoe with Pacific and Māori players making up 98 per cent of club members.

Graig says the park is in ‘desperate need of renovation’ adding, “it’s no secret that the further you move south [in Auckland], the worse fields get.

“South Auckland is where games are at our strongest, but we’re playing on the worst fields in the city.

“Our changing rooms are not suitable for young women and girls across Auckland.”

Craig says a lack of safe facilities is a major driver for the players’ negative experience with the club.

“Lights are not fit for purpose. Our requests for bulb replacements don’t go anywhere.” 

ARL says the lighting at Kohuora Park only covers one of four fields, preventing internationally competitive teams from getting the right training. Photo: Supplied

He says players’ parents must point car headlights at the field so games can go ahead at night.

“If we could have any one thing, it would be for lights and changing rooms to be updated,” Craig says.

Makiha says Kohuora Park currently has four fields, but lights cover just one field.

“We have eight international teams. Without lights, they can’t train competitively,” she says.

“Auckland can be the greatest league city in the world. We’re growing great people,” Craig says.

Makiha says hygiene facilities at Kohuora Park don’t give players an inviting or safe space. Photo: Supplied

Manukau ward councillor Lotu Fuli asked ARL if it had applied for Auckland Council Sports and Recreation funding: “I don’t recall seeing an application from you.”

She added that giving feedback on the long-term plan (LTP) proposal is key for the group as well as sharing its story with the whole of Auckland Council.

Fuli says it’s important to be explicit in what areas are underfunded and that statistics like those from the Papatoetoe Panthers are usually not provided during consultations like that for the LTP.

Board chair Apulu Reece Autagavaia says the current LTP proposal will lead to further funding cuts but that a rates rise for the city could help with funding.

“If we go for the status quo or less [than what we’re paying], we won’t see things improve,” he responded to ARL.

Autagavaia says sports clubs are on the board’s list of priorities: “Sports clubs are an important part of many of our lives.

“It’s just a matter of how fast funding is confirmed,” he says.

He added that they would follow up on changing rooms for female players as well as providing sufficient lighting.

Local democracy reporting

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