Savannah keen for summit
February 5 can't come soon enough for Savannah Matua.
That's the day the Nga Tapuwae College fifth former will be at the All Stars Indigenous Youth Summit in Brisbane.
She will be one of four Maori at a conference of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders teenagers drawn from the 16 Australian Rugby League clubs.
The five-day event forum is being organised by the Australian Rugby League Commission.
The Vodafone Warriors organised the selection of the New Zealand candidates.
The conference centrepiece will be the annual All Stars match between an Indigenous XIII and an ARL XIII.
It will showcase the achievement and application of the players and stress the importance of them becoming role models and leaders so they get to make a difference in their own communities.
The commission is tasked with encouraging indigenous youth to value their education and aspire to meaningful employment, training or further education while embracing their unique culture and heritage.
Matua is buzzing with anticipation. She says she couldn't believe she'd been selected so she read the email confirming her participation 10 times.
"I really couldn't believe. This is an experience that will enrich my life and I can't wait to go," the 16-year-old says.
"This is the chance to see my culture in another light, experience other cultures and learn about leadership.
"I value the conference's uniqueness and will relish the opportunity."
Matua is eminently qualified.
She has been steeped in Maoritanga since she was a tot. She went to Te Huringa Rumaki Reo and Te Wharekura O Manurewa in Manurewa before transferring to Nga Tapuwae College in Mangere this year so she could attend fifth form.
She has long been a kaea, a leader in kapa haka, and was a member of the Nga Tapuwae College troup that won the Te Ahurea Tino Rangatiratanga, the Auckland regional kapa haka competition, for the second year running.
Matua, who is set on running her own business when she grows up, loves her sport.
She will play for the Maori under-16s at the World Tag Championships at North Harbour Stadium starting next Wednesday.
She's also a deft hand at netball where she plays goal attack and she loves rugby league, a game she's determined to have a go at once she has turned 18.
"Mum and dad say I'm still too young to be playing," she says.
It is Matua's love of league that's the reason she is so excited about going to Brisbane.
"I'll get to see the All Star game. I really can't wait."
That passion is a given considering her father Rusty is a league coach and two-time Fox Memorial Trophy winner with the Manurewa Marlins and her mother Karla is a long-serving player and administrator of rugby and rugby league in Manurewa and Counties Manukau.
Both are pillars of Maori sport in the region. Rusty's iwi is Te Arawa and Karla's is Ngati Whatua.