Last two Māori boys' boarding school's annual clash

By Jessica Tyson

The last two Māori boys' boarding schools go head to head in their annual rugby fixture this Saturday.

Hato Pāora and Te Aute have played the keenly contested match every year since 1997. 

Hato Pāora principal Nathan Matthews says he’s confident his boys can take out the competition.

“They’re up for it, they’re excited. It’s a big fixture on our calendar each year.”

Matthews says his boys have been working hard to prepare.

“Hopefully they’ll put that on the field on Saturday. We’ll have a couple of really good games of Māori rugby – hard and intense with a bit of flair hopefully – and we’ll see who wins at the end of the two matches.”

Giving it 100%

Meanwhile, Te Aute principal Shane Hiha says his team has what it takes to win.

“For both our schools, there’s a lot of expectations on our 1st XV teams to go out there and do the job in honour of their old boys who have worn the scarlet jersey before in the case of Te Aute," he says.

“If they go on the field they play with passion, they play hard but fairly, they give it 110 percent for their brothers. They play as a team for 80 minutes. When they walk off the field they’ll be the best team. If they have a win as a bonus, so be it and they’ll have the bragging rights for 2020.”

Both principals agree the day isn’t just about the rugby but also about whanaungatanga as well.

“This is a time that they will meet for the first time in their lives. It will carry on throughout their lives. They’ll meet at university. They’ll meet at the workplace. They’ll meet at kapa haka competitions and these relationships that they start building now will take them through. So the rugby is really important.

"Good luck to Hato Paora. We hope to win,” Hiha says.

Old boys return

Matthews says people come from long distances to watch the games and support their sons and nephews.

“Old boys come from all over the country to come and be part of the day and that really adds to the event of the whole day and the responsibility as host for manaakitanga and whanaungatanga. That rests with us for this year and Te Aute did it well last time we were up there.”

Matthews says he feels the pain of not having former Māori boarding schools Hato Petera and Hato Tipene still there.

“We take it very seriously being the last two schools and certainly both work hard to ensure that we’re a continuing option for Māori whānau.”

He says the schools need to remain in a contemporary context while keeping tradition and a legacy.