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Pacific Series 2023

Thousands turn out for celebration of Pasifika sport and culture at Burnside Park


Bringing people together to celebrate culture through sport, the Pacific Series in Christchurch is much more than just a rugby league tournament.

Eighty-four teams, from youth to adult grades, took the field at Burnside Park over Show Weekend for the event's seventh edition.

To acknowledge the diverse communities represented, teams donned the flags and colours of the participating Pacific Island nations as part of a March Past before the opening games.

South Island Pasifika and Sports Association organise the event, and Chair Iosua Tauti says the tournament is an opportunity for the community to connect. 

“Our theme this year was belonging and the idea that we want to connect as many people as possible to their culture,” says Iosua. 

“It is a chance to unite families and communities through sport to celebrate their heritage and cultural identity. This community-driven event instils a sense of pride in the local Pacific community and is always competitive, fun, and family-centric.”

The atmosphere at Burnside Park resembled a festival, with culture, music, food trucks, and footy in full swing.

South Island funder Rātā Foundation provided support with event costs under their 'Participate' funding area. Chief Executive Leighton Evans says the tournament aligns with Rātā priorities, explicitly removing barriers to participation in sport and cultural activities.

“Pacific Series has been running for several years now, and participation numbers have grown significantly, which is a testament to the work event organisers are doing to actively remove barriers and connect people, young and old, to their cultural heritage,” Leighton says.

“Sport has a unique ability to bring people together, and Rātā is proud to support an event that promotes community connectedness and wellbeing.”

South Island Malie took out both the women’s and men’s grades of the tournament, while values-based awards were given to the younger grades.

The values that were focused on to determine over-all team awards from Grades 10s - 16/18s were:

  • Fa’aaloalo/Respect (Samoan): As a team, they will show respect for each other, the opposition, coaches, parents, referees, and the sideline.
  • Manaakitanga/Kindness (Māori): Teams will encourage and show kindness to others, they will support and care for one another on and off the field.
  • Mafana/Passion (Tongan): To show passion for the game and also your culture on and off the field.
  • Veiliutaki/Leadership (Fijian): To lead a team. To show great sportsmanship throughout the tournament.