St Kents rugby star joins the crusade

Te Ahiwaru Cirkidaveta is a talented rugby player, pictured here playing for Saint Kentigern College's First XV.
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Te Ahiwaru Cirkidaveta is a talented rugby player, pictured here playing for Saint Kentigern College's First XV.

A small-town boy coming to a big city sounds like a theatrical Broadway production.

In fact, it's the story of a young, upcoming rugby star in our midst.

Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta, 18, comes from tiny Te Araroa on the East Coast and has been playing for the Hurricanes development side since he was 16.

Te Ahiwaru Cirikdaveta leading a haka at Saint Kentigern College.
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Te Ahiwaru Cirikdaveta leading a haka at Saint Kentigern College.

With only 140 families in Te Araroa, he was bound to stand out - and it wasn't just because of his height or size-15 shoes.

Cirikidaveta was playing rugby at a Gisborne high school when former All Black Rico Gear spotted him.

It's something that Cirikidaveta humbly admits he did not know and only heard about later.

"They said Rico Gear saw me playing in the East Coast and talked to a couple of people about me." 

It's no secret that Saint Kentigern's College in Pakuranga produces some of the most prominent rugby players in New Zealand.

So when the college heard of his talent, it offered Cirikidaveta a rugby scholarship. 

To support his transition from Te Araroa in 2014, St Kent's approached the Breakfast Club.

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It's a charitable organisation helping students and families from low-decile schools.

In Cirikidaveta's case they helped by finding sponsors for his rugby gear, and boots that have to be specially made.

They also keep a close eye on his living situation as he doesn't have family in Auckland.

Breakfast Club general manager Steve Farrelly says he was happy to support Cirikidaveta and continues to.

"He's a boy from a small town coming to a big town. We were worried that it would be too much of a jump for him."

Danielle Parshotam, a Breakfast Club volunteer, says Cirikidaveta's story is remarkable.

"The main thing is how extraordinary his story is. Being brought up in Te Araroa and his whole life is switched from living there to a big city like Auckland.

"Then, actually being able to have the opportunity to play with the Hurricanes, and the All Blacks seeing him play."

Cirikidaveta, sitting next to her, offers a shy laugh.

The big lock/No 8 doesn't say much; he's still new to the spotlight and it shows in his boyish grin.

Since his move to Auckland, he's played for the Hurricanes under-17 and under-18 rugby teams, and been selected for the NZ Maori under-18 development side.

Earlier this year he travelled to Christchurch with the Hurricanes under-18s to play against the Crusaders under-18s, beating them by more than 50 points.

Upon his return to Auckland, the Crusaders Academy offered him a two-year contract.

Parshotam says: "The whole [Cirikidaveta] family is so humble and they're just so happy it's turned out the way it has."

 - Stuff

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