Moana Pasifika is a rugby union team made up of players from various Pacific island nations and New Zealand or Australian born players of Pasifika heritage, including Fiji, Samoa, Tonga and the Cook Islands.
The team was created for a one-off match against the Maori All Blacks in December 2020, with the future intention of trying to join the Super Rugby competition.
On 14 April 2021, New Zealand Rugby confirmed the side had been granted a conditional licence to join the Super Rugby competition. In July 2021, the team was given an unconditional licence, ensuring them for the 2022 Super Rugby Pacific season.
The team played its inaugural Super Rugby match on 4 March 2022.
In November 2020, Moana Pasifika coach Tana Umaga named a 26-man squad for the match against the Maori All Blacks on 5 December 2020. The team was made up of New Zealand-based players who were international or sevens capped by a Pacific team or identified with a Pacific region. On 5 December 2020, the team played their first match against the Maori All Blacks at Waikato Stadium. Captained by Sydney born Samoan international Michael Ala’alatoa, the side lost to the Maori 28–21.
Four days from their historic golden point Super Rugby success, Moana Pasifika delivered another stirring display to seriously rattle the Blues in the first edition of the cross-town rivalry.
After stunning the Hurricanes at Mt Smart Stadium last Friday night, Moana Pasifika rolled out a completely revamped team featuring 13 debutants for the Blues following multiple late game-day changes due to further Covid cases.
Despite those widespread alterations, Moana’s spirit and belief were identical. Their depth performed admirably, too. And their first genuine crowd responded with a buoyant atmosphere to ride their every hit, carry, try.
The Blues, arriving with one starter from the team that defeated the Highlanders in Dunedin last Saturday, were in control as they led 19-0 late in the first half before Moana Pasifika launched their now infamous comeback.
Moana Pasifika hooker Luteru Tolai nabbed a try just before the break – one of five in the match from lineout drives, to spark the crowd into life, and the home side emerged from the sheds breathing fire for the second half.
Solomona Kata, playing on the ground he regularly featured for the Warriors, was held up over the line. Minutes later, prop Abraham Pole scored on debut to inspire a surge in belief. Had Tolai not been denied his brace for a double movement, the result could well have been different.