Festival to highlight bright Māori and Pasifika cricket future

By James Perry

Lachie Bailey and Gisele Naidu will line up for the Māori Schools and Pasifika Schools respectively

Māori and Pasifika secondary school cricket players will be on show today in Auckland as the first meeting between the two teams gets underway.

The Rangatahi Cricket Festival will feature boys and girls' sides, each playing three T20 matches at the Parnell Cricket Club over two days.

The Māori Schools teams feature a number of up-and-coming stars of New Zealand cricket, including Lachie Bailey (Ngāti Kuia) who has been selected for a third time in the Aotearoa side. The all-rounder is a Wellington U-19 representative. Josh Olliver (Te Āti Awa) is another all-rounder with a promising future. The King's College student is an Auckland U19 representative and also played for the inaugural Auckland Māori side in 2022 against the Cook Islands and Northern Māori.

Meanwhile, the girls' side will feature sisters Kiri and Dayle Anderson (Tainui), Ella Gibson (Tūhoe, Te Aitanga a Mahaki, Ngāti Porou), Jess Smith (Tainui, Ngāpuhi) and Anika Todd (Ngāti Whātua ki Kaipara) who all return to the squad to face a strong Pasifika team.

The Pasifika squads feature a number of familiar names, including Solomon Nash, whose father, Dion, was a regular member of the Black Caps in the 1990s and his mother, Bernice, is a former Silver Ferns captain. He is joined by Oscar Su'a whose father, Murphy, became the first Samoan to represent the Black Caps in 1992 against England. He went on play 13 tests and 12 ODIs for New Zealand. 

Francesca-Eti Tonu'u headlines the girls' team. The promising wicketkeeper is the daughter of former All Black halfback Ofisa Tonu'u, who is also a talented wicketkeeper, making his international cricket debut for Samoa in 2019 at the age of 49. 

The Pasifika squads are made up of players representing the islands of Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Cook Islands and Niue. 

Pasifika Schools Manager, Garry Wood, said the squads, comprised of Auckland-based players of Pasifika descent, contained talented players who are beginning to make their mark in Auckland Cricket age-group teams.

“Our players are motivated to do well and are ready to showcase Pasifika cricket to the wider community.

“They have been busy playing within Auckland representative sides, and I’m sure they will be up for the challenge,” Wood said.

The first girls' game starts at Shore Road at 10.30am, with the boys following at 2.30pm. The following day will see the teams do battle again with the girls playing two games at Ōrākei Domain while the boys will remain at Shore Road.