UCOL Te Pūkenga Wairarapa is proud to be the primary sponsor for the Wairarapa Wāhine Toa rugby team for 2023.
A new uniform featuring the UCOL Te Pūkenga logo was unveiled at a blessing and launch event on 1 April.
As part of the sponsorship deal, UCOL Te Pūkenga Wairarapa has offered scholarships to squad members who wish to study at the institution. The scholarship opportunity is designed to promote life-long learning and enable players to reach their career and education goals alongside their sporting goals.
UCOL Te Pūkenga Wairarapa Director, Carrie McKenzie says the institution had been looking into sponsorship opportunities in the community. Wairarapa Wāhine Toa stood out to McKenzie, who played representative rugby for Wellington at a time when sponsorship for the women's game was very hard to come by.
"We always had to play in the men's hand-me-down jerseys, which, if you were a forward, were always too big and not designed for women's bodies. This was standard as there was very little sponsorship for woman's rugby and it was mostly self-funded."
"Even in 1996, when we played in the curtain raiser for the very first Super 12 game in Palmerston North, we had to pay for a bus and the motel, and wore old jerseys from the men's teams."
McKenzie hopes this sponsorship will enhance the players' pride in the team and the jersey, and help them get to the top of their game.
"Women's rugby has gone through incredible growth in recent years – the success of last year's Rugby World Cup shows that. Some people said women's rugby would never fill Eden Park, but the 42,000 fans who turned up told a different story. We are proud to contribute to this growth by supporting the game at a grass-roots level."
Wairarapa Wāhine Toa Chairperson, Jodie Somerville says, "Our kaupapa as a club is to support and grow our wāhine both on and off the field. This is what makes our partnership with UCOL Te Pūkenga so perfect"
Wairarapa Wāhine Toa Coach, Scott Collins says having a sponsor like UCOL Te Pūkenga Wairarapa on board is huge for the club.
"The club has made massive progress in its short history, recently becoming one of the first all-female rugby clubs in New Zealand. The fact we get to play games against teams from Manawatū and Whanganui, who also have UCOL Te Pūkenga campuses, provides a certain synergy to the relationship as well. You can only view this partnership in a positive light."
Wairarapa Wāhine Toa compete in the Prue Christie Cup, the premier Manawatū women's club competition. Their season kicks off on April 15 at Kimbolton against Fielding Old Boys Oroua.
Lead image: UCOL Te Pūkenga Wairarapa Director Carrie McKenzie (left) and Kaikokiri Te Mana Tauira Riki Anderson (right) with Wairarapa Wāhine Toa players Nikita Jackson, Lisa Te Moananui, and Destiny Ranger at the launch event for the team's new uniforms.
Second image: Wairarapa Wāhine Toa players showing off their new jerseys.