New Zealand Rugby has launched its Pasifika strategy which it hopes will connect Pacific communities with the national game.
The NZR Pasifika Strategy 2024-2029 aims to create more equitable opportunities for Pasifika at all levels of the game, and is the first known of its kind to be developed by a national sports organisation anywhere in the world.
NZR Chair Dame Patsy Reddy said the organisation is focused on enhancing environments that are prepared to embrace Pasifika and their values.
"This strategy represents our collection of visions and aspirations for Pasifika in rugby. It is our commitment to see environments where Pacific people can flourish and ensure our sport is responding to the specific needs of the Pasifika community."
Reddy acknowledged the underrepresentation of Pasifika in off-field roles was a significant focus for the strategy.
The strategy is based on four pillars (pou): Kelekele (preparing the soil), Totō (planting the seed), Tubu (growing our Pasifika people) and Lalanga (strengthening the shared vision of NZR and Pasifika people).
The theme for the strategy is derived from the process of planting and nurturing pandanus plants, representing the goal of seeing non-Pasifika and Pasifika connect effectively and weave worldviews into rugby.
NZR Tausoa Fa'atasi Co-Chair and NZR Emerging Director Pauline-Jean Luyten said it was vital the strategy development was led by the Pasifika community.
"NZR is showing it can do things differently and the co-design process was that point of difference. Being Pasifika-led is a step toward rebalancing the vaka and nurturing the vā (the relational space between people or groups), ensuring we feel valued and belong in the rugby system. This strategy is about us and has been crafted with us."
The consultation process saw over 20,000 hours of voluntary work and feedback from professional and community Pasifika players, their families, coaches, referees, directors and administrators across Provincial Unions and clubs.
Alongside the strategy, NZR and Tausoa Fa'atasi (Pasifika Advisory Group) have co-designed an action plan outlining the organisation's commitments to implementing the strategy in 2024.
These commitments are based on the first pou (Kelekele, preparing the soil) to set the strategy up for long-term success. The Pasifika Strategy will also inform the development of annual action plans for NZR through to 2029.
NZR Pasifika Engagement Manager Saveatama Eroni Clarke said now is the time to improve the experiences of Pasifika by ensuring rugby environments will properly support the growth.
The NZR Pasifika Strategy will act as a guide for all Provincial Unions, Super Clubs and clubs to inform their own efforts for greater diversity and inclusion, with the support of NZR.