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Pasifika Hall of Fame inductees.

Pasifika Hall of Fame

Sports

A night with the legends

Sir Bryan Williams and a lineup of incredible rugby heroes were inducted into the Pasifika Hall of Fame including Jonah Lomu and Pita Fatialofa.

Iliesa Tora, RNZ Pacific Senior Sports Journalist
Published
03 April 2024, 2:54pm
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Last Thursday night belonged to the legends of Pasifika rugby and those continuing the legacy.

The seven legends inducted were the late Jonah Lomu (Tonga/New Zealand), the late Pita Fatialofa (Samoa), Waisale Serevi (Fiji), George Smith (Tonga/Australia), Muliagatele Brian Lima (Samoa), Seiuli Fiao'o Fa'amausili (Samoa/New Zealand) and Tuifa'asisina Sir Bryan Williams (Samoa/New Zealand).

All the former players had previously been inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame.

Other players who were recognised were All-Black Ardie Savea, who was awarded the Jonah Lomu Pasifika Rugby Hall of Fame award for the most influential player in the world.

Black Ferns wing Ruby Tui received the 'Seiuli Fiao'o Fa'amausili Award for the most influential Pasifika woman player in the world.

The 'Waisale Serevi Pasifika Breakthrough Player of the Year' award was given to All Black and Auckland Blues winger Mark Telea and French women's rugby rep Manae Feleu, from Wallis and Futuna.

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A packed crowd witnessed the induction and the awards at Eden Park, with a lot of former Samoan and Tongan players turning up for the event.

"It has been a wonderful time for me in rugby, and it is appropriate that the event is held here at Eden Park, because I played my first game here when I was 10 years old," he said.

"It is humbling and I am honoured."

Former sevens wizard Serevi said he was honoured to be part of the inductees and thanked players and coaches who helped him in his career.

"I thank all the players in Fiji, Tonga, Samoa and the Pacific who we are here to represent," he said.

"I thank all the players and the coaches who helped me, and more importantly all the players who are here, who had been chasing me all around and they have made me the player that I was."

Former Wallaby flanker Smith said he was honoured to represent some of the Pacific players who represented Australia.

"It is important for me that I do recognize some of the Pacific players who paved the pathway for myself - Viliame Ofahengaue (Willy 'O) was a hero of mine; Fili Finau, 'Ipolito Fenukitau, Taniela Manu and Toutai Kefu," he said.

"These players were inspirations for me."

Seiuli Fiao'o Fa'amausili paid tribute to her parents and family for their support throughout her career and to those players who paved the way for Pasifika women in rugby.

"I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to all those who have been part of this beautiful journey," she said.

"Thank you for believing in me and standing by me. My success has been made possible by those who have come before us."

Nadene Lomu, wife of the late Jonah, said it was a privilege to be representing her husband at the event.

"It is a privilege to be here and be part of the movement for our Pasifika people," she said.

She said her late husband has left a lot for young Pasifika people to learn from.

"We can be what we want to be. No matter how hard it gets, we must rise above ourselves," she said.

"With that, we carry Jonah's legacy for the greater good."

Pasifika Rugby Hall of Fame chairman La'auli Sir Michael Jones said they will continue to honour Pasifika rugby players around the globe.

He added the organisation will also use its resources to push for better recognition of Pasifika players, and also the inclusion of Pasifika representation in decision-making positions within rugby unions across the globe.