The four students chosen by the Warriors to attend the NRL-All Stars Indigenous Youth Summit got the chance to get up close with players.
"It’s an amazing opportunity for our taitamariki or young people, all four of them haven’t been to Melbourne before, and some of them haven’t been outside of Aotearoa, which in itself is a great opportunity," says Otene.
Today Nia Kara, Reiata Phillips Heihei, Sean Kaka and Te Ao Kohatu Kaukau Troughton- all from Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Kaikohe- were greeted by Warriors captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, five-eight Blake Green and hooker Issac Luke.
Warrior’s veteran Luke, who grew up in the small town of Hawera, had some simple advice to the young students who have been identified as future leaders of Kaikohe.
"I don’t think I’m a leader myself, but I let my actions speak," says Luke, "Even though I’m not calling the shots [in game play] but what I do and how I got about it is a way I can lead."
"[Luke] is humble, when we were talking to him he said he doesn’t see himself a leader- that just shows he is a leader, it’s being humble," says Kaka.
"You can learn a lot of leadership skills from him [Roger Tuivasa-Sheck] because he’s a top player in the world," says Troughton
Deidre Otene, CEO Te Kotahitanga E Mahi Kaha Trust, says the successful students demonstrated exceptional leadership qualities in their communities.
"Leaders, not just in sport but in terms of their education, their connection to their hapū, whānau and marae and community as a whole," says Otene.
"We run a kaupapa called Moving the Māori Nation which is about getting more young people and whānau into physical activity and providing healthy options in terms of healthy lifestyle."
Warriors community relations manager Petrece Kesha says the four were chosen due to their excellent cultural knowledge, leadership qualities, education results and their aspirations to be young leaders in their communities.
“As a club the Vodafone Warriors are committed to supporting youth across the country through our various community programmes and it’s awesome to be able to give such an incredible opportunity to these four Māori students from the Far North,” she says.
The students will get the chance to share Māori culture with more than 60 indigenous youth leaders from New Zealand and Australia.
Each NRL club has the opportunity to put forward four youth for the summit, which aims to provide an opportunity for attendees to further develop their leadership, cultural, educational and communication skills.
The students will also get the chance to witness an All-Star New Zealand Māori square-off against the Australian Indigenous All Stars in a men's and women's double-header at AAMI Park.
“We were trying to drive that since 2012, now we’ve got exposure and sponsors and it’s a good concept and I hope I’m a part of it,” says Luke.
The All-Stars Indigenous Youth Leadership Summit takes place next February in Melbourne.