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Regional | Rugby

Off-field champions: Winless Hastings rugby club finalist for club of the year

A Hastings sports club whose top team went winless this year is a New Zealand Rugby Club of the Year finalist.

Tamatea, which lost all 14 games in Hawke’s Bay premier rugby this season, has ben recognised for its performance off the field, turning the clubrooms at Waipatu Marae over to accommodation for Napier’s Waiohiki whānau evacuated in Cyclone Gabrielle.

This meant the club had almost nowhere to go had it had any wins to celebrate.

While more than 100 from Waiohiki were accommodated at the marae after the February 13-14 cyclone, 13 are still there in the long and patient wait for renovations which will enable them to return to their homes – hopefully for some in time for Christmas.

NZR says that the Rugby Club of the Year Award recognises achievement of significant outcomes for members and community, and it carries a contribution of $5000 worth of sponsor products for the maintenance of the clubrooms

Tamatea (red and black) in one of their losses in Hawke’s Bay premier rugby in June. Photo / NZME

Club president and chairman Stewart Whyte said that because of the ongoing other use of the clubrooms, aftermatch functions hosting visiting teams, and the festivities after the staging of the 50th anniversary Te Wero tournament pre-season, took places at several other venues, including Clubs Hastings and the Hastings darts hall.

In the process the club, which in 1982 marked 40 years since winning top rugby prize the Maddison Trophy for the only time in the club’s history of more than 110 years, lost the revenue which the clubrooms would normally have turned over.

Guest Kiriana Laison, whose home in Victoria Lane, Waiohiki, was all-but destroyed in the flooding, said she hopes the club wins the award.

The remaining group, mainly whānau ranging in age from 4 to 78, felt welcome and comfortable, and part of the Tamatea Club and Waipatu community, while the kōhanga also continues to host tamariki from the Waiohiki kōhanga, which was destroyed in the flooding.

Working as a kaimahi at the kōhanga, Laison said that, considering other options for temporary accommodation, she had to think about mobility issues with the more elderly, ruling out accommodation of two storeys or more because three in her own home are in their 70s.

“We’re only a drop in the ocean,” she said as she considered the numbers of cyclone victims and the breadth of their circumstances amid the loss of their homes or serious damage.

Amid the demand for builders and other tradespeople, it’s only this week that renovations started on her home, which was flooded well up the walls, meaning renovations needed for everything but the ceiling.

“When I heard the club is a finalist, I thought that’s really cool,” she said.

Whyte said the whānau have remained comfortable and have sorted out their own spaces within the facilities. They also utilise some of the facilities on the marae.

On the field Tamatea had one other senior side, which won just a handful of games, but enough to claim a new Division 3A title, and the club also had about 10 children’s teams, and netball and rugby league teams.

It is one of three finalists in the club of the Year category at the ASB national rugby awards on December 14, vying for the honour with Auckland University and Counties-Manukau club Beachlands Maraetai.

Club representatives will be rubbing shoulders with some of the biggest stars in rugby as achievements are recognised in more than 20 categories, including New Zealand Rugby Player of the Year.

There are two other Hawke’s Bay hopes, with Hawke’s Bay Tui captain Krysten Cottrell, one of three finalists in line for the Farah Palmer Cup women’s championship Player of the Year title, and young Hawke’s Bay Magpies and New Zealand Under-20 player Harry Godfrey, a challenger for age-grade Player of the Year honours.

- New Zealand Herald