Whiti te Ra: a team, a club, a whānau

Whiti te Ra ki  taki team and wh nau with their Champion of Champions 2015 trophy, won against Taranaki champions Western Suburb Tigers , Bay of Plenty champions Pikiao , Waikato champions Taniwharau
Whiti te Ra ki taki team and wh nau with their Champion of Champions 2015 trophy, won against Taranaki champions Western Suburb Tigers , Bay of Plenty champions Pikiao , Waikato champions Taniwharau

By After a dominant, three year rebuilding phase during which they only lost one game, achieved a 42 game winning streak and were Manawatu rugby league champions three consecutive times (2013, 2014, 2015); one could hardly blame Whiti te Ra ki Ōtaki rugby league premieres for seeking out tougher competition. At the end of the 2015 season, that is exactly what they did. Based in and comprised of mainly local players from our small township of Ōtaki, the Whiti te Ra premiere team applied to and were successful in transferring from the struggling Manawatu regional competition to the more competitive Wellington competition.

It was not an easy transition for the local club, and indeed there were some amongst the Wellington conference that thought Whiti te Ra would struggle; but with strong support from club stalwarts and sponsors, Whiti te Ra played their first competition game on the 25th March against St George Dragons at Cannons Creek Park. Whiti te Ra won by a convincing 82 points to 4. This surely would have had an impact on those doubters.

Fast forward to round 4 and our local lads remain undefeated in the bigger, faster, stronger Wellington competition. They find themselves lining up against defending champions, Te Aroha Eels for what promised to be an intense battle.

Lead by player/coach Manaia Osborne (who scored four tries in the game), Whiti te Ra fought their way to a half-time tied score of 16-16. On the back of a solid second half defensive effort, superior fitness and passages of play that wouldn’t be out of place in an NRL highlights package, Whiti te Ra emerged the victors, winning 38-28 and taking their place as the stand-alone leaders on top of the ladder with 8 competition points and a positive points differential of 168 points.

Although it remains early in the season, the future is looking bright for the Whiti te Ra ki Ōtaki premieres.

The Whiti te Ra ki Ōtaki club has had a resurgence of activity across their other grades and sports as well. They are now able to boast multiple junior age-grade teams, netball teams and a dedicated Masters grade rugby league team. It is also looking likely that there will be a competitive Women’s rugby league team representing Whiti te Ra in the near future.

One thing they are not able to check off their list is a functional, accommodating clubrooms. Work was started on the clubrooms years ago but did not continue and the club is now stuck with a derelict top floor, allowing them only the use of the changing room facilities.

Fundraising efforts are underway to reconstruct the clubrooms. One source of funding that has presented itself is a competition currently being run by Woodstock. Woodstock is giving a chance for two rugby league clubs around the country to have their clubrooms “spruced up”. If you would like to show your support and vote for Whiti te Ra, you can by going to the Woodstock (Food & Beverage) page on facebook and finding the featured picture. Once found, simply nominate Whiti te Ra ki Ōtaki and give a reason why. Or you can email them at win@woodstockbourbon.co.nz with a short summary (no more than 250 words) to say what upgrades or repairs Whiti te Ra ki Ōtaki needs and why it deserves that upgrade. Only one entry per person. Please help! The competition ends 13th May.

If you would like your children to play rugby league, the junior teams train at 4:30pm on Wednesday nights and play on Saturday mornings. Age-grade teams range from 6 to 13 years old.

Whiti te Ra premieres would like to take this opportunity to thank their sponsors ‘The Tele’, Horizon International Limited, May 15 Tattoo, Tuff Stuff Paving and Tino Inc.