The future stars of Māori and Pasifika cricket were on show in Auckland today in a first of its kind festival for our top high school players.
Among the rising stars of the Māori Schools and Pasifika Schools squads are teenagers with last names that Kiwi cricket fans may recognise.
One such player is keeper Francesca Eti-Tonu’u - daughter of former All Black and Samoa cricket international Ofisa Tonu'u.
“Because I was Pasifika I felt a bit different to everyone but being able to be in a team with Pasifika boys and girls is great,” she said.
Her proud dad said he was happy to see New Zealand cricket creating a space for heritage.
“It means a lot that the sport of cricket is identifying our Pasifika and Māori and gives an opportunity for boys and girls and I'm pleased my daughter has this opportunity.”
Francesca isn’t the only one with cricket pedigree in the Pasifika teams, though.
Solomon Nash – son of former Black Cap Dion Nash and Silver Fern Bernice Mene – featured in the boys squad and even nabbed an early wicket today.
“I’m almost a bit relieved but I’m excited for him,” Mene said.
“They [Dion and Solomon] have a similar competitiveness and temperament but we try to refrain from comparisons under our household but certainly there’s a lot of competitiveness.”
The all-rounder said he gets more than just that from his parents though.
“They know how everything goes,” Solomon said.
“They’ve been through it themselves, they’ve gone from the ground up so they know best. They do help me a bit.”
But the links don't stop there.
Oscar Su'a, the son of the first Pacific-born player to play Test cricket for New Zealand, Murphy Su'a, also featured.
And if that wasn’t enough, a driving force behind the inaugural Pacific Island team is none other than Black Caps legend Ross Taylor.
“We had this discussion just after I retired so it's nice for it to come to fruition,” Taylor said.
“I think this is only the beginning and hopefully, in time, it can organically grow and keep a lot of these kids in cricket.”