Navigating Two Worlds: Pacific Island Experiences and Contribution to Non-playing Participation in Rugby

Dee, K
Ferkins, L
Naylor, M
Bryham, G
Item type
Commissioned Report
Degree name
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
The Sports Performance Research Institute New Zealand (SPRINZ), AUT University

New Zealand Rugby (NZR) recognise there is a significant difference between the number of Pacific Island rugby players, and the number of Pacific Island people participating in non-playing rugby in Auckland. Through exploring the perspectives of Pacific Island rugby community members, this project aims to help NZR develop a better understanding of this ‘issue’. Key recommendations are proposed for moving forward towards greater awareness and appreciation of the Pacific Island culture. Eight Pacific Island rugby community members were selected based on their experience, insight and ability to share their perspective and that of their wider community. Individual in-depth interviews were conducted and a breadth of rich, insightful data were collected, allowing for key themes to develop. We learnt that to the Pacific people, this ‘lack’ of participation in non-playing rugby is not necessarily an ‘issue’ and that instead a better understanding of the Pacific Island way is needed. We adopted two lenses that represent the stories and key messages of the interviewees. Firstly, ‘Appreciating Pacific Island Cultural Values’, which encompasses the importance of family, the significance of church and church commitments, and the strong service orientation of the Pacific Island people. The second lens, ‘Perspectives on Leadership’, is strongly underpinned by the Samoan proverb “The pathway to leadership is through service”. We heard that Pacific Island philosophies on leadership encompasses informal, collectivist approaches, focusing on people and relationships which augments titles and roles. It was revealed that Europeans are usually viewed as the authority figures and the systems are often aligned with a more European approach. An overall theme that developed was the idea of Pacific Island people ‘navigating two worlds’ as they live as a Pacific Island New Zealander. Our recommendations are based around NZR enabling the Pacific people to continue to journey through these two worlds within the rugby community through focusing on two key areas; a) enhancing the understanding of Pacific Island culture within the New Zealand Rugby community and b) creating a shared understanding of leadership between Pakeha and Pacific Island members of the NZR community. These are linked to four recommendations; 1) development of a Pacific Island advisory group, 2) implementation of cultural awareness workshops for decision makers, 3) insights driven implementation and communication, and 4) a targeted leadership initiative for 20-25 Pacific Island rugby community members. In summary, we acknowledge that this is not a process of fixing an issue but instead an opportunity to engage with and better understand the Pacific Island community within rugby. We believe in turn this will lead to more involvement of Pasifika people in non-playing rugby activities, enhanced playing experiences, and a strengthened New Zealand Rugby community

Retrieved from
Rights statement
Auckland University of Technology (AUT) encourages public access to AUT information and supports the legal use of copyright material in accordance with the Copyright Act 1994 (the Act) and the Privacy Act 1993. Unless otherwise stated, copyright material contained on this site may be in the intellectual property of AUT, a member of staff or third parties. Any commercial exploitation of this material is expressly prohibited without the written permission of the owner.