Theft at marae shocks but spurs team on to victory
Visiting league team gets gear knickedADRIAN EVANS
Shocked young rugby league players from Rotorua have received an apology from the Manurewa Marae after having all of their personal gear stolen.
The Rotorua Boys High School team is staying at the marae while competing at the national secondary schools rugby league tournament in Papakura.
Thieves broke into the team's locked room on Monday and stole laptops, iPads, shoes, clothing and a digital projector.
Captain Ngarohi McGarvey Black says the burglary "galvanised" the team to a four-game winning streak on the way to the finals which are due to be played today.
"It brought the boys closer together big time. When it happened it was a real down buzz but we looked to the positive side of things, put it behind us and came to play hard," the 17-year-old pivot says.
Team manager and Rotorua Boys High old boy Sam Cameron says the side was shocked to find its gear gone when they returned from a 42-8 win over Southland Boys High.
"On the day we asked ourselves ‘how could this happen at a marae?' But we dealt with it so we could focus on the league."
He lost his iPad and speakers but is pragmatic about the incident.
"Theft is a daily thing that affects all communities, including us in Rotorua, but you just don't expect it at a marae."
Marae board of trustees chairman Rangi McLean says he's "devastated" by the theft.
The board had decided to refund the team's accommodation costs and try to raise more funds to cover its losses.
"Maybe the time has come where we need to look at installing CCTV. It's the second time in a year that a security incident has happened where people have walked on to the marae," Mr McLean says.
The marae was the target of an arson attack last year when someone set fire to its mattress room.
"It's a sad thing to have to do. I was raised in a time when a marae was sacred, where you could leave it open and nothing would happen to it."
Mr McLean and marae members "apologised profusely" to the boys at a meeting on Wednesday night, Mr Cameron says. "We're pleased the board responded quickly in the way it did, which probably wouldn't have happened if we were staying at another establishment.
"That's the first time I've been to a marae that has so much foot traffic. Going forward, I hope they sort out the security issues because the facilities are amazing."
Police are investigating.
This is the first time Rotorua Boys has fielded a league team in its 87-year history. It is recognised more for its rugby and the side assembled just three weeks ago to compete in the tournament's development grade.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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