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Rieko Ioane’s Kaikohe connection and All Black support for the Far North

Jaxin Daniels, Te Rito journalism cadet

All Black Rieko Ioane will be taking the mana of his Ngāpuhi whānau and Aotearoa to Paris in September for the Rugby World Cup.

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

The All Blacks have gifted special commemorative benches to 26 communities around Aotearoa as part of their “Our Bench is Your Bench” promotion. Ioane was able to reveal one of the special wooden benches in his hometown in Kaikohe last weekend.

The community benches reflect those same benches that support the starters on the field, recognising the support from Aotearoa.

“(It’s) not too often I get to come back home where my whanau’s from,’' Ioane told Te Karere News.

“This is the town I grew up in, I spent a lot of time up here.”

The reveal of the bench was attended by the local community who relished in the chance to interact with a homegrown All Black.

Ioane said it was great to give something back to a community that had given him so much.

“It was special for my family.

“It was awesome. Mum (Sandra) told a few of my aunties and uncles and they were all there. Having the ability to give something back was awesome.”

Cheryl Smith, Women’s Rugby Development Officer for Northland Rugby, said such visits inspired kids growing up in small communities in Northland.

“Just showing the kids, there is a pathway from Kaikohe to the All Blacks.”

Smith says Ioane’s whanau lived ‘just down the road’ would be so proud to see the former Kaikohe Rugby Club player return to the town.

Ioane says he embraces his Northland connection and hopes the bench signifies support when the team travels to France.

“(There is) a lot of symbolism, but basically it’s taking New Zealand with us over to France … always taking Nga Puhi with me.”

Rieko Ioane signing autographs for local kids at the Kaikohe reveal of the All Blacks bench. Photo / Supplied 

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