Home News Te Papapa Tigers rugby player turns 70

Te Papapa Tigers rugby player turns 70

Tonga-Liuaki-Fainu

Made up of players aged 35-plus, the Te Papapa Tigers Presidents rugby team, celebrated a milestone in September. The oldest, and longest-serving, member of the club, Tonga Liuaki Fainu, celebrated his 70th birthday.

He has been a resident of Onehunga for 41 years, and joined the Te Papapa Rugby Club back in 1979. Affectionately known as Leo to those closest to him, ‘old’ is definitely not a word appropriate to this man. The fit grandfather challenges opponents at least 40 years his junior, takes on huge hits, and serves monster tackles on the sport’s field.  

A well-respected father figure to many of his team mates, Leo has watched them grow from young children, to middle-aged men. Fellow team member and good friend, Malo Mauga has valued his guidance and advice, during their 30 years of friendship. Malo has been with the club since he was a child, in 1986, and today he is a talented coach to numerous school and rep teams. He describes Leo as a hard-working family man, and positive role model. “Playing beside him at this age has been an absolute honour. Over the years, he has taught me the importance of family, trust, and respect. These are lessons that I will treasure forever, and continue to pass on to our younger generation,” he said.

To keep his mind and body strong, Leo continues to work at O-I Glass Ltd in Penrose, where he has been employed for over 30 years. The company often organise fishing trips - which is another one of his great passions. Leo looks forward to Saturday games, and enjoys sharing a few drinks and banter with the boys in the locker room. 

He has witnessed many changes during his time, and treasures all the strong friendships he has formed. “This club means the world to me. Everyone here is like my family. I will always have a special place for Te Papapa in my heart”. Leo has been proud to represent his beloved suburb, and vows to continue wearing his yellow and blue rugby jersey on the field, for as long as his body allows.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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