Kiwifruit industry assembles top talent for RSE rugby fundraiser
16 Jun 2022
The Kiwifruit industry rugby team has brought in two ex-All Blacks and a stellar grower line-up to help avenge last year’s loss to the Parliamentary team in this year’s Zespri sports fundraiser.
The Kiwifruit team goes head-to-head with the Parliamentarians at Te Puke’s Murray Salt Stadium on 8 July to support Recognised Seasonal Employers scheme (RSE) workers and their communities.
The match will cap a day of rugby and netball games, cultural activities and a charity auction, the proceeds of which will help Pacific communities grappling with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated travel restrictions.
Last year the kiwifruit team was beaten by the Parliamentary team in a match to raise funds for the families and victims of 2019’s Whakaari/White Island eruption. This year the kiwifruit team has signed on some top-level talent to ensure the Parliamentarians don’t make it two in a row.
The line-up will include ex-All Blacks, Māori All Blacks, Crusaders, Chiefs and BOP Steamers veteran Tanerau Latimer and ex-All Blacks, Highlanders, Chiefs, Crusaders and BOP Steamers legend Mike Delaney.
Also on board will be ex-Māori All Blacks, Japan and BOP Steamers player Steve Miln – who featured in last year’s team – and ex-All Blacks 7s, BOP Steamers and Northland star Matt Clutterbuck.
“It’s a social occasion played in really good spirits but it’s always more fun if you win so we’ve bolstered our line-up a bit this year to try and keep with theirs,” said Zespri’s Head of Global Public Affairs Michael Fox.
“Bringing a bit of star power into the lineup should also help generate a bit of interest in what’s a really important cause and we’re hoping to see a good turnout and to raise some funds for those communities.”
Local grower and Kiwifruit team member Scott St George said RSE workers were a critical part of the Kiwifruit industry.
“RSE workers are a really important part of our industry. Travel restrictions due to COVID-19 have limited their ability to travel from the Islands which has reduced the earnings they can send back to their communities.
“This is a great way to stand by them and show how much we value their contribution to the kiwifruit industry.
The Parliamentary team will include MPs Mark Mitchell, Kieran McAnulty and Simon Watts. Ex-All Black Piri Weepu and his brother, ex-Manly Sea Eagle Billy Weepu, will be star players for the Parliamentarians, alongside former Super Rugby, Māori All Blacks and New Zealand Sevens rep Matua Parkinson.
Parliamentary team co-captain Mr Mitchell said the Parliament team was ready for the challenge.
“After last year’s victory for the Parliament team we expected the kiwifruit industry to pull its socks up a bit but we’re ready for them again this year and are really happy to support a good cause.
Mr McAnulty said the team’s matches were always played in good spirits.
“While it’s always competitive we’re all there to support our communities and after last year’s fixture we’re really looking forward to the day and the opportunity to support the RSE community.”
Mr Fox said the event is part of the industry’s ongoing support for RSE communities.
“RSE workers are an incredibly important part of the New Zealand kiwifruit industry. Recently they’ve faced challenges not only from the pandemic, but also events like the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcanic eruption in Tonga.
“This is a great way for us to bring the whole community together to show our support.”
The fundraising day will also feature U-18 girls’ and boys’ rugby matches between Māori and Pasifika teams, an industry netball vs Parliamentary Netball Team clash, fundraising activities, Pacific music and food, and fun family events.
Funds raised will support projects in the home countries of RSE workers through the Kiwifruit Industry Community Support Fund. Curtain raisers start at 2.00pm. Entry is free and donations can be made at the event.
Scott Kahle - BOPRU - Chairman
Scott St George - Grower/DMS - Tauranga
Charlie Russell - Opal Kiwi Packaging
Tom O'Donnell - Grower - Whakatane
Sam Warren - Eastpack CRM
Wikarena Ahomiro - Apata
Morgan Kinnard - Grower - Opotiki
Rangi Collier - Seeka - East Coast
Tom Heeney - Grower - Te Puke
Glen McNaughton - Grower - Papamoa
Matt Clutterbuck - Bayleys
Jason Skiffington - Grower - Te Puke
Tanerau Latimer - Grower – Tauranga
Quentin Gardiner - Ngamanawa Inc
Mark Inman - Ring in - Whakaari Match
Jarod Teddy - Grower - Whakatane
Paul Julian - Grower - Whakatane
Rameka Poihipi - Te Puke Police
Mike Delaney - BOPRU - Head Coach
Steve Miln - Grower - Paengaroa
Anaru Timutimu - Maori Kiwifruit Growers Inc
Che Todd - Grower - Opotiki
Simon Cook - Grower - Te Puke
Michael Fox - Zespri
Brad Ririnui - Zespri
Nathan Olsen - Zespri
Hunter Prescott - Zespri
Jason Te Brake - Zespri
Jack Christianson - Zespri
Luke Gallagher - Zespri
Chris Bainbridge - Zespri
Mark Mitchell - Co-Captain
Simon Watts - MP
Kieran McAnulty - Co-Captain
Alfred Ngaro - Ex-MP
Steve Bradshaw - Parliamentary Financial
Terry Tearikiau - Parliamentary Security
Barry Manning - Sponsor/Chair
William Crowe - NZ Police
Brad Cribb - Team member
Delaney Edmonds - Partner of Parliamentary staff
Jack Tarrant - Media
Billy Weepu - Media
Piri Weepu - Brother of Billy (Bob)
Darton Tangihaere - Media
Ethan Smith - Media
Suzanne Yee - Parliamentary Team Leader
Ged O'Connor - Related to Damien O’Connor
Rob Marshall - NZ Police
Elia Filipo - Parliamentary Security
Peter Jones - Sponsor
Mark Barker - Parliamentary Security
Marc Mirlyaz - Parliamentary Driver
Nathan Riwai-Couch - NZ Police
Matua Parkinson - Media
Darrel Carnegie - Parliamentary Security
Craig Tansley - Sponsor
Hadley Gardiner - Sponsor
Keith Lowen - Team member
Cam Taylor - Sponsor
Steve Dyhrberg - Ex-VIP transport manager
Richie Guy - Coach
Gregory Betham - Coach
Matua - Management
Sean Rota - Management
For further information visit the event site below