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Historic Poverty Bay and the East Coast, N.I., N.Z.

East Coast Rugby Union

East Coast Rugby Union

Rugby became organised on the East Coast in May, 1903. There were then clubs at Tolaga Bay, Tokomaru Bay, Tuparoa and Waipiro Bay. It was decided to form a “Waiapu Rugby Union,” but, as the New Zealand Rugby Union would not acquiesce, Waiapu became a sub-union of the Poverty Bay Rugby Union. In May, 1922, Waiapu, after another futile attempt in 1914 to form a separate union, was granted affiliation by the N.Z.R.U. under the title “The East Coast Rugby Union.” Its first management committee comprised: P. Tamahori (chairman), G. Neill, H. Poananga, J. M. Reedy, M. Hyland and Robinson, with C. T. McFarlane (secretary).

The first contest between Waiapu and Poverty Bay was held in 1903. Waiapu: T. Potae, Rangi, M. Murphy (captain), Pokihau, G. Reynolds, Hicks, E. R. Murphy, H. Fairlie, J. Haimes, Aorere, Beetham, J. Taylor, F. Manuel, R. K. Murphy and Brooking. Poverty Bay: Russell, Lear, Symes (captain), Nolan, Te Reina, Poananga, J. Hay, Morissey, Newton, Mullaney, Hatea, Holmes, Paratene, Wepiha and Wauchop. Poverty Bay won by 17–5.

Matches which East Coast has played against outside districts have resulted as under:

v. Poverty Bay—(See under Poverty Bay list.)

v. Bay of Plenty—1930, lost 3–6 and won 19–3; 1935, won 12–6; 1937, drawn 0–0; 1947, lost 9–11; 1949, won 25–24.

v. Thames Valley—1931, won 5–3; 1947, drawn 0–0.

v. Hawke's Bay—1932, lost 8–14; 1934, lost 11–22.

v. Waikato—1929, lost 11–15; 1947, lost 8–11.

v. Taranaki—1929, won 3–0.


Jimmy Mill (born at Bexhaven, East Coast, on 19/11/1900) proved a worthy Rugby descendant of his father (W. B. Mill, one of the founders of the game in Poverty Bay). It was, however, as a Hawke's Bay “rep.” that he got a chance to make a big name for himself as a half-back. In 1921 he played for Hawke's Bay-Poverty Bay against the Springboks at Napier, became a Maori All Black in that year, was included in the North Island teams for 1923–24–25–26 and, as a Wairarapa “rep.,” in 1929, and was a New Zealand “rep.” in 1923–24–25–26 and 1930. Mill toured with the All Blacks in Great Britain and France in 1924–25, playing in 18 matches and scoring 33 points. F. M. Howard (a British Rugby authority) classed Mill, Kersham (England) and Bryce (Scotland) as the best halves, after Lawton (N.S.W.), whom he had seen since the First Great War. In 1925 Mill played against N.S.W., in 1926 against N.S.W. (three tests) and Victoria, and, in 1930, against Britain at Dunedin. In all he made 33 appearances for New Zealand and 19 for the Maori XV.

Everard Stanley Jackson was born at Hastings in 1914 with Rugby blood in his veins. [His father (F. S. Jackson) was the next best forward after Edgar Morgan in Harding's 1908 Anglo-Welsh team, but was recalled by the English Rugby Union, after the ninth match in New Zealand, to answer a complaint that a League club had entered into negotiations with him before he left England. He returned and settled in New Zealand.] Everard was only 14 years old when he was given a place in the Takararangi (Te Araroa) senior team. He became an East Coast “rep. in 1932, and a Hawke's Bay and North Island “rep.” in 1934. Two years later he played for Hawke's Bay, for New Zealand in two tests, and for Maori All Blacks, against Australia. In 1937 he was a member of the New Zealand sides in all three tests against the Springboks, and, in 1938, he toured Australia. On several occasions he played for Tai-Rawhiti. The Rugby Almanack for New Zealand named him as one of the five best players in New Zealand in 1936. Again in 1936–37–38–39 he gained a place in the North Island side. He made 11 appearances for New Zealand.

Sana Torium (Tori) Reid (born at Tokomaru Bay on 22/9/1912) revelled in chasing a football first at the Tokomaru Bay Native School, and, later, at the Tolaga Bay D.H. School. From 1929 till 1933 he was an East Coast “rep.” In 1930 he was a member of the Tolaga Bay-East Coast-Bay of Plenty side, and of the Maori XV, which met the Britishers. Four years later he became a Hawke's Bay “rep.” and was a North Island “rep.” in 1934–36–37–39. Reid toured with the All Blacks in Britain in 1935. page 439 taking part in 19 matches, including the international contests. The Rugby Almanack named him as one of the five best players in the Dominion in 1936. In that year he played against Australia (two tests) and captained the Maori XV against the visitors, and, in 1937, he played in all three tests against the Springboks. His appearances as a New Zealand “rep.” totalled 27. He was the veteran player in the Maori side which visited Australia in 1949.

George Nepia (born in Nuhaka district in 1905) was a Hawke's Bay rep.” when he was selected for the All Blacks' visit to Australia in 1924. During the All Blacks' four of the British Isles in 1924–25, he played in all of the 28 contests, and, in addition, in the two held in France. His aggregate was 70 points. F. M. Howard (a British Rugby expert), who had witnessed 85 international contests since the First Great War, said of Nepia: “He is easily the greatest all-round full-back I have ever seen, and, quite possibly, he is the greatest of all time.” In 1925 Nepia played against New South Wales, in 1929 against New South Wales and Australia, and in 1930 in all three tests against the British touring side. He represented New Zealand in 46 international contests and was a member of the Maori XV for 15 seasons. He then accepted an offer to play League Rugby at Home. His attachment to the Home Guard on the East Coast during the Second World War (1939–45) enabled him to secure reinstatement in the Rugby code. As late as 1947 he appeared for East Coast in some fixtures on a northern tour, and, during that season, he also led Tai-Rawhiti against the Maori XV at Ruatoria.


A mishap which terminated fatally occurred during a match between Kaiti-City and Huia on Tucker's Paddock on 13 July, 1901. Thomas Everton Kirk, aged 22 years (captain of the Kaiti-City side) collided with a team-mate, and received an injury to his spine from which he died a week later. He belonged to Hamilton.

O. R. Olsen controlled senior and “rep.” matches in Gisborne for 25 years.

A contest memorable for rough play, rowdiness and fighting took place at Mata-whero in June, 1910, between Kaiti-City and Red Stars. Ordered off the field, a Maori member of the Red Star team harangued the referee from the sideline for the rest of the game. He was disqualified for life. The second spell was a continuous brawl, and, at the close of play, there was some fighting.

Poverty Bay players who secured inclusion in a North Island XV: J. B. Poynter (v. N.S.W.), in 1894; A. Kaipara, 1910–11–12; C. Ryland, 1911; M. Paratene, 1912; J. Nicolas, 1913; W. J. Langlands, who was unlucky not to be included in the 1925 All Black team which toured Great Britain, 1925 and 1928; I. D. Bramwell, 1928; A. G. McPhail, 1929; A. I. McAneny, 1939; G. F. King, 1947; R. A. White, 1949.

Poverty Bay and East Coast players selected for All Black trials—1924: W. J. Langlands and A. F. Matthews. 1927: W. J. Langlands, F. C. Bennett, I. D. Bramwell, G. Carrington, V. S. Caulton, G. Murland, E. K. Thomas. 1929: G. Nepia (E.C.), E. R. Thomas. 1930: G. Nepia (E.C.), 1934: H. Kirkpatrick. 1935: P. Goldsmith (E.C.), G. Nepia (E.C.), G. Pepere (E.C.), K. Reedy (E.C.), G. Reeves (E.C.), J. Kershaw (E.C.), R. Paenga (E.C.), A. H. Webb, P. Kaua, L. T. Martin, W. Matheson, S. Moeau, C. McKinley, B. Rogers and J. Pohatu. 1937: A. I. McAneny. 1939: A. I. McAneny and Rogers. 1948: I. G. Shaw and G. F. King.

Contests in which Tai Rawhiti (Hawke's Bay, Poverty Bay, East Coast and Bay of Plenty) has played for the Prince of Wales Cup have resulted: 1928, v. Tai Tokerau, lost 8–15; 1929, v. Tai Hauhauru, lost 11–24; 1931, v. Te Waipunamu, lost 9–10; 1934, v. Tai Hauhauru, won 16–10; 1935; v. Te Waipunamu, won 13–3; 1936, v. Tai Tokerau, won 22–14; 1938, v. Tai Hauhauru, won 14–9; 1939, v. Te Waipunamu, won 12–9; 1946, v. Tai Tokerau, lost 6–17; 1948, v. Tai Hauhauru, lost 6–11; 1949, v. Tai Tokerau, lost 11–14.

Football (Australian Rules): A Poverty Bay Football League was formed in March, 1907, and some games were played on Harris's Paddock. The movement was revived in June, 1909, and three teams were formed, but enthusiasm was again short-lived.

Rugby (Northern Union): The opening match was played at Taru-heru on 17 May, 1913, between teams styled “Gisborne” and “Taru-heru.” A visit was paid to Gisborne by a Napier team during the following month. Few prominent Rugby players were attracted, and interest in the new code waned. Ryland, Rukingi and Paratene were members of the New Zealand side which visited Australia in 1913, and Joe and Mason Lockwood, of East Coast, obtained places in a New Zealand team which toured Australia in 1922.