24 Feb 2021

New show to Champion the Pacific athlete

8:43 am on 24 February 2021

Pasifika athletes are making an impact in sporting arena's across the world, but beyond their feats, what are they passionate about, what do they struggle with and what do they celebrate?

Tonga celebrate the Junior Tatola try during the Pacific Test.

Photo: © Photosport Ltd 2018 www.photosport.nz

RNZ Pacific's new show Champions of the Pacific aims to showcase more than just their wins and losses.

Co-hosts Talei Anderson and Koro Vaka'uta along with sports producer and journalist Vinnie Wylie will bring a weekly feature from today both on RNZ National and across the region on short-wave and on major podcast platforms.

The show aims to step away from the field to look at what makes the Pasifika athlete tick, including in-depth interviews with athletes and members of the Pacific sports community and talanoa on the hot issues of the moment.

Koro Vaka'uta said he hoped Champions of the Pacific would live up to its name.

"We want to highlight the achievers but also those who are championing and representing their people around the region and the globe," he said.

"Representation means everything to me, so to give a voice for such people on a highly respected platform is amazing.

"I'm excited because we are also looking to go beyond the results and the field or court and capture the person/people as Pasifika, rather than just the athlete."

He said there would be something for everyone over the coming weeks.

Talei Anderson hoped the show would unite people across the region.

Champions of the Pacific co-host, Talei Anderson

Champions of the Pacific co-host, Talei Anderson Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

"I want this show to be a space where our people can come together. A space where we can celebrate our success, talk about our struggles and to tell our own stories.

"I'm excited about it because we get to talk about the things we want to talk about - it's a show for all of our Pasifika people, it's our show."

Vinnie Wylie, has been a familiar voice across the Pacific, delivering the sports news and reporting on events across the region for the past decade.

He built an appreciation and affinity with Pacific athletes over the years.

"We want to showcase some of the region's best sporting talent and role-models, but also some sports and competitors doing things a bit differently, or off the radar, and create a space to talk about issues that affect and are relevant to the Pacific Island sporting community," Wylie said.

He said he was looking forward bringing a different element to the sports media landscape.

Vaka'uta was excited about what was in store.

"We've been working on so much content - so I'm hopeful, no matter what sport you follow or even if you're not too keen on any specific discipline, there is a level of story-telling that we hope will enthrall you."

The first episode, out today, features a lively discussion with Samoan commentator Fauono Ken Laban, veteran broadcaster Keith Quinn, Silver Fern Whitney Souness and former Tongan rugby captain Inoke Afeaki exploring how Pasifika players names are still being mangled by many in the sports media.

"Pasifika are dominating the sports world, but commentators can't get our names right. What more can be done?"

Anderson said despite a number of social and video campaigns over the years there still seemed to be a fair way to go when it came to getting Pacific names right.

The first show also features stories on the cricket contest that brings all three Tokelau atolls to a standstill.

"Some people might not realise but the atolls of Tokelau come to a virtual standstill in summer as the nation turns its attention to their style of cricket and the colour, festivities and feasting that comes with that," Vaka'uta said.

The Wellington branch of the Ah Kuoi family also talk about their sporting legacy.

"One of the other segments we are hoping might become semi-regular is talking with Pasifika families, great sporting families and not just about the sucess they have on the field but also what connects them and that family bond and how it is portrayed through sport," said producer, Vinnie Wylie.

Father and son Ken and Naitoa Ah Kuoi.

Father and son Ken and Naitoa Ah Kuoi. Photo: RNZ

Champions of the Pacific will be broadcast across the region on RNZ Pacific's shortwave service on Wednesday mornings and every Wednesday night in New Zealand on RNZ National at 9:40pm. It can also be downloaded on all major podcast platforms.