The Auckland-based club take to the field for the first time on Friday, February 4 (7.05pm kickoff), in a pre-season fixture against the Chiefs at Mt Smart Stadium, and all proceeds, and donations, from the match will go towards supporting the ‘Ofa Atu Tonga’ (Love You Tonga) disaster relief efforts.
Moana Pasifika Trust chair, Savae Sir Michael Jones, said it would ensure added meaning to what was already going to be an historic occasion.
“The Moana Pasifika family, the Chiefs whānau and the wider community will show their love and support for Tonga in the aftermath of the catastrophic events that have taken place since the weekend,” he said. “At times like this, we are all Tongan.”
Coach Aaron Mauger, who is leading the team after three seasons with the Highlanders (2018-2020), said the team wanted “to show our ofa” by supporting relief efforts in a meaningful way.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with our families and friends in Tonga who are suffering some severe hardship right now,” he said.
Chiefs chief executive Michael Collins encouraged Chiefs fans to head along to support the cause, while coach Clayton McMillan was anticipating “plenty of passion, physicality and flair” from the hosts in a game which will be specially broadcast by Sky Sport, and also played on their Prime free-to-air channel.
“We want to show our support for the people of Tonga and for their whānau and friends in Aotearoa New Zealand, and we’re delighted to be working with Moana Pasifika on this special broadcast,” Sky chief executive Sophie Moloney said.
The match will be played in three 30-minute periods, with rolling substitutions, to allow coaches to play their full squads and trial various combinations a fortnight out from the start of the Super Rugby Pacific competition.
Tickets to the game go on sale on Friday, with all purchases going towards the relief efforts, along with donations collected online or at the gate.