'I'm 49 now and I just crossed the stage with my baby'

By Mare Haimona-Riki

Rugby League legend Ruben Wiki has recently graduated with a diploma in sport and recreation but what made it even more special was that he was able to do it alongside his 20-year-old daughter Mackenzie.

“Not everyone gets to cross the stage with their father but it means a lot because I was able to have that support the whole way,” she says.

Studying at the Manukau Institute of Technology School of Sport, Ruben says Mackenzie wasn’t always excited to have her "old man" in the same class

“As soon as we walk in the doors she just brushes me off. She goes and sits with her mates because I'm too old apparently.”

Since his retirement in 2008, the former Canberra Raider and Warriors forward has been doing important work among whānau in his hometown of Otara, through his health and fitness community, Wiki Works.

“We started as a little boot camp in our garage with two people. Now we have a big building and have over 100 clients.”

After receiving his diploma, the 49-year-old legend challenged his fellow graduates to “run it straight".

“Run it straight at life. You got these beautiful degrees to do something special and I am going to use this to make a difference in my community of Otara.”