Regional | Hākinakina

Northlanders win big in Auckland league

With a lack of a competition in Northland, a group of teenage girls decided to make a two-hour-long journey, every week, to play for the U-14 girls' Hibiscus Coast Raiders in the Auckland competition. They were rewarded with a place in the grand final, played in Manurewa on the weekend, and won against their opposition, the Manukau Rovers.

The 17 girls from Northland have spent six months travelling to and from Auckland to be a part of the Hibiscus Coast Raiders in the Auckland competition.

Team manager Aika Slade-Te Rito says without a competition for the girls, the decision was made to join forces with Hibiscus Coast.

"They all started from the Māori competition last year. They were a part of the Ngāpuhi Ahi team, and they wanted to carry on playing. We have a really good relationship with the Hibiscus Coast Raiders and we found a home for them there this year."

Long 24 weeks

And she says it's more than just about league.

"It's been a long 24 weeks for us, with all the training, with all the girls coming around from Northland, from Kerikeri, Dargaville, Moerewa, all meeting at Whangārei."

"We've actually had comments from one of our girls that this game actually saved their life, especially given what's happening to our rangatahi all over the country."

Having made it to the grand final, the girls found themselves down at halftime, and with just five minutes to go in the game, they scored two quick tries, with Te Maia Davison scoring the winner 12-10 to the Raiders.

Huhana Lyndon is one of the many parents, along with support staff and coaches who have sacrificed so the girls could play each week. They started fundraising in January for things like van hire and petrol.

She says, even though the travel is long and arduous, there is a lot to like about the competition in Auckland.

"There are benefits to coming to play in Auckland because the competition is a lot bigger. This is the biggest competition in the country."