Samoan flags fly at Māngere Town Centre, as Toa Samoa fever returns
Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air
A sea of Samoan flags and Toa Samoa vibes flooded the Māngere town centre car park ahead of the inaugural Pacific Cup challenge tonight, as the team goes up against Australia.
The Pacific Championships are part of Australia Rugby League’s long-term strategy to increase cultural competency within the game and among fans, while also supporting players to play for their respective nations.
The last time South Auckland was flooded with parades and Samoan flags was last year during the Rugby League World Cup in England.
As areas of South Auckland were inundated with traffic today, the fan zone at the Māngere Town Centre was filled to the brim - both in the carpark and in the town centre itself.
Li’amanaia Lorenzo Kaisara is a member of the fan zone committee, having previously served on the local board of directors, as well as in the health sector and now with the fan zone.
“Having it today was to get the vibes going, rallying people together,” he said.
“It was my way of giving back to Toa Samoa and the people of Samoa.”
Live performances by well-known Samoan artists Punialava’a lit up the stage, entertaining the crowd as they sang with pride, cheering and loud cheers of: “Cheehoo!”
Toa Samoa had their jersey presentation last night, where 10 debutants were named. Six players make make their debut tonight.
Toa Samoa will be in Auckland next Saturday - playing at Eden Park.
Following last year’s Rugby League World Cup, the Kiwis will face Toa Samoa, igniting a new Pacific rivalry.
Meanwhile, the Women’s Pacific Bowl includes the Cook Islands, Fiji, Samoa, and Papua New Guinea.
The games will affect whether teams qualify for the Rugby League World Cup in 2026 and contribute to the country’s global rankings.
Hero image: Toa Samoa fans out at the Māngere Town Centre today. Photo / Li'amanaia Lorenzo Kaisara