Indigenous | Huntly

Smear Your Mea tries new approach with rugby league wāhine

Cervical cancer advocate Smear Your Mea yesterday began a new campaign to persuade rugby league wāhine to get tested.

It began its efforts along the shores of the Waikato River at the Taniwharau club, which is steeped in history and mana.

Taniwharau and Smear You Mea united to reach out to wāhine connected to the game to inform, support, and encourage them to get tested for cervical cancer.

“This is an initiative about well-being and taking care of the generations of the families of Taniwharau,” club captain Erin Pāki said.

The club acknowledged women in the game on and off the field and officials were presented with one-off exclusive pink Taniwharau jerseys sponsored by Built Smart and led by Epiha and Paea Kete.

Along with women in league, Smear Your Mea was acknowledged by those who were presented their jerseys as well as the whole community of Rāhui Pōkeka.

Reaching more women

“We started with kapahaka but that has come to an end with Te Matatini finishing up, therefore, we look to winter games for our people and that’s league, and that’s our wāhine,” Smear Your Mea ‘s Eruera Keepa said.

Smear Your Mea was set up by the late Talei Morrison in 2017 to raise awareness and promote advocacy and support through early detection, treatment, and prevention of cervical cancer, for kaihaka, their whānau, and their communities. It has become a leading movement and voice in the cervical screening area.

“Rugby league is a game Māori love to participate in, Therefore, if we can find a club that we can partner with, such as Taniwharau, we are able to stretch our reach with information and support and teachings passed down from my sister,” Keepa said.

Last month Rāhui Pōkeka Local Board chair Sheryl Matenga and her team started Smear Your Mea at Waahi Paa.

Tono for tests

Close to 50 women have been tested and many more were informed, given support, and educated about cervical cancer. Her team put a tono out to Waahi Paa, the Taniwharau Club and Te Wharekura o Rakaumanga, which they call the golden triangle in Rāhui.

The majority of workers at Rakuamanga are wāhine. Wāhine are holding more positions inside of rugby league than ever, and likewise with the marae.

The active ones inside the golden triangle were the wāhine, “so we knew we had to do something more for our wāhine - we needed to bring in the kaupapa of Smear Your Mea because without them we have no backbone,” Matenga said.

Matenga will now look at preparing a kaupapa to reach out to ngā tāne and prostate cancer, while Keepa aims to build relationships with the Black Ferns and work with players like Ruby Tui and Stacey Waaka.

By the end of the night, Taniwharau had raised $5000 and given it to Smear Your Mea.