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Papatoetoe Panthers vice chair Nick Tausi, mini-mod delegate Rita Winter and chairperson Carla Makiha (left to right).

Photo/ Alka Prasad


‘Our wāhine should have autonomy’: Auckland Rugby League call for urgent action at Papatoetoe club

Auckland Rugby League and the Papatoetoe Panthers are calling on Auckland Council to build the right facilities and fields for the growing club.

Alka Prasad
27 March 2024, 4:00pm
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Their fields have been described as the "worst" in the city, while its female players have to get changed in public toilets.

And the Auckland Rugby League (ARL) is now calling on local council to improve the facilities for the league-loving community in Papatoetoe.

ARL club development officer Mark Craig told the Ōtara-Papatoetoe Local Board that the Papatoetoe Panthers urgently need better facilities, especially for the safety of its female players.

Papatoetoe Panthers chairperson Carla Makiha says, “our wāhine should have their own autonomy at our club – it's 2024.

“Girls are changing in public toilets or covered in mud because changing rooms are full," Makiha told the board.

Makiha says the club is concerned about female athletes who don't have their own changing rooms as existing infrastructure is failing to keep up with the club's growth.


The club is based at Kohuora Park in Papatoetoe with Pacific and Māori players making up 98 per cent of club members.

He said the park is in “desperate need of renovation”.

Craig says, “it’s no secret that the further you move south [in Auckland], the worse fields get.

“South Auckland is where games are at our strongest, but we’re playing on the worst fields in city.

“Our changing rooms are not suitable for young women and girls across Auckland,” Craig says.

ARL says the lighting at Kohuora Park only covers one of four fields, preventing internationally competitive teams from getting the right training.

He said a lack of safe facilities is a major driver for the players’ negative experience with the club.

“Lights are not fit for purpose. Our requests for bulb replacements don’t go anywhere,” Craig says.

He says players’ parents must point car headlights at the field so games can go ahead at night.

“If we could have any one thing, it would be for lights and changing rooms to be updated,” Craig says.

Makiha says Kohuora Park currently has four fields, but lights cover just one field.

“We have eight international teams. Without lights, they can’t train competitively,” she says.

“Auckland can be the greatest league city in the world. We’re growing great people,” Craig says.

Makiha says hygiene facilities at Kohuora Park don't give players an inviting or safe space.

He said the group is committed to partnering with any organisation that will help improve player facilities.

Manukau ward councillor Lotu Fuli asked ARL if it had applied for Auckland Council Sports and Recreation funding: “I don’t recall seeing an application from you."

She added that giving feedback on the long-term plan (LTP) proposal is key for the group as well as sharing its story with the whole of Auckland Council.

Fuli says it’s important to be explicit in what areas are underfunded and that statistics like those from the Papatoetoe Panthers are usually not provided during consultations like that for the LTP.

Board chair Apulu Reece Autagavaia says the current LTP proposal will lead to further funding cuts but that a rates rise for the city could help with funding.

“If we go for the status quo or less [than what we’re paying], we won’t see things improve,” he responded to ARL.

Autagavaia says sports clubs are on the board’s list of priorities: “Sports clubs are an important part of many of our lives.”

“It’s just a matter of how fast funding is confirmed,” he says.

He added that we will follow up on changing rooms for female players as well as providing sufficient lighting.

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