Regional | Rugby 7's

Tauranga’s Pāpaka Rangataua Club leaps into Worlds Schools 7s tournament

Matua Parkinson, who spent time playing for NRL, Māori All Blacks, NZ 7s, NPC and Super Rugby, is preparing an under-18s men’s rugby 7s team to compete at this year’s World's School 7s Tournament to be held in Auckland next week.

But he is not coaching a New Zealand national team, NZ Māori team or any other international side.

Instead, he will be taking a team from his beloved Pāpaka Rangataua Rugby Club based in Maungatapu, Tauranga.

“Next Thursday we are entering the Worlds under 18s Sevens Rugby tournament. We are facing the best in the world, our small club Pāpaka Rangataua, and we will give it everything we have got,” Parkinson said.

But it was a sheer bit of luck that got them there.

The World School 7s is an International U-18 boys and girls sevens rugby tournament with over 30 teams from around the world competing. This event offers opportunities for New Zealand-based U18s representative sides, academies, composite sides, and secondary school teams to participate.

‘Have you got a team?’

“My wife emailed the Worlds Tournament, asking if there were any Māori teams. The director rang back and asked if she was Matua Parkinson’s wife, and she said yes. He then asked: ‘Have you got a team?’ and she said ‘yes’.

“He said they just had a team pull out – Zimbabwe so I said yes, we got a team, Pāpaka Rangataua,” a jubilant Parkinson recalled.

This is the 10th intense week of 7s training for these young men from secondary schools around Tauranga.

Pāpaka Rangataua Club captain Aramahou Ririnui said it was an honour for the boys and the club to be welcomed into the World 7s Tournament because they are representing their club.

“Our young men can use this tournament as a stepping block to a career in professional rugby just as Mutz (Parkinson) has done. I am thrilled for them,” Ririnui said.

Te reo training

Parkinson is noted for coaching his team in te reo Maōri, a language he could not speak until recently.

“I wanted my language so bad I did something about it” Parkinson said

Along with everything else Parkinson has been carrying on his shoulders this year, he made the commitment to study Te Reo Māori fulltime at Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato Te Tohu Paetahi at the Tauranga campus.

His dad was fluent in Te Reo Māori but never spoke it around the home. Parkinson has longed for his language since he was a young child growing up in Te Kaha.

“I wanted to take back what was stolen. I wanted to be able to talk to our youth, our mokos, even our elderly. I wanted my language so badly I did something about it,” Parkinson said.

And now he is using the Māori language in his training sessions to improve himself and normalise the language among these young players.

 Dyslexia didn’t stop him

Ririnui has seen the improvement in Parkinson’s reo over the year and his commitment to speaking the language in all environments including on the Pāpaka Rangataua fields, “That’s awesome. Mutz is the type who doesn’t read. He is dyslexic, and that hasn’t stopped him from studying one little bit, therefore he speaks more,” Ririnui said.

Hohepa Des-Chandler, a player from Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāi Te Rangi said, “It is meaningful to hear him speak Māori because it just brings us closer to our culture as we are all Māori boys or culture boys playing rugby”.

And Kase Meyer, another player from Muaūpoko, near Levin, said, “With the colour of my skin everyone thinks I’m Pākehā but I have got my Māori side as well and it is really good to show that, especially when you know people are picking rep teams, I’m proud to rep Pāpaka hard”.

All Parkinson wants, is for the boys to do their Pāpaka Rangataua club proud and the whānau connected to it.

“Yeah we may be the only club side facing national honour teams and high development 7s rugby academies but we ain’t scared. We will give them a good go, Pākapa Rangataua that’s us”, said Parkinson.

After the Worlds Schools U18 7s Tournament, Parkinson and the Pāpaka Rangataua players will travel to the Orlando Tropical 7s next year.