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Mother's Day Special

Friday, May 8, 2020
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We want to acknowledge some of our Bay of Plenty mothers this Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day!

Susan Karl

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As a former jewellery valuer, Susan Karl has handled some valuable diamonds and gemstones in her life, but the Bay of Plenty Rugby Office Manager says one of the most treasured gems in her life is her mother Denise.

The mother of three daughters and soon to be grandmother says, her mum is the perfect role model when it comes to being a mother.

“She is amazingly patient, loving and kind. I’ve been lucky to have parents who have been there for me through thick and thin.”

Due to the lockdown, Susan won’t be able to visit her mum, who lives in Otaki, for Mother’s Day. But she will be video calling her on the day.

However, she is looking forward to a Mother’s Day treat of eggs benedict that her daughters make her every year.

Just two weeks ago Susan wasn’t even sure she would be in New Zealand for Mother’s Day.

On March 8, Susan along with her travel companion Gabby Flessak, had flown to Brazil for a one-month holiday. Just a few days into her holiday the local television station started to mention the outbreak of COVID-19 in Italy and the hundreds of deaths each day.

“It was really hard to understand what was going on, because it was all in Portuguese and Gabby was translating it for me. She said Chile had closed its borders which is where our return flight would be stopping over.”
At first, Susan wasn’t too concerned and thought the shutdown would only last for a week or two. But it soon became apparent that things were more serious than she first thought.

“We decided to go to the store to get supplies but everything had shut down. The police were driving around the streets with a loudspeaker telling us to stay inside. It was like something out of a movie.”

Susan and Gabby’s return flights were cancelled and the pair were left wondering how they would get back to New Zealand.

“We contacted the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the New Zealand Embassy in Brazil, the Latam airline, trying to get some reassurance but there was nothing they could tell us.”

Eventually, a repatriation flight was organised to get New Zealanders back from Peru which would stop in Chile, but they would have to get there themselves in order to make the flight.

With the borders closed and flights being cancelled the risk was too great that they may get stuck in an airport and miss the connection. So, they decided to stay put and hope that flights resumed sooner rather than later.

Another week went by and news came out that the last direct flight to New Zealand through Doha was leaving on April 17th and Susan and Gabby managed to secure seats.

Susan didn’t want to tell her kids about the flight, who by now were imagining they wouldn’t see their mother until possibly June or July in case the flight was cancelled. It was an emotional video chat at Doha airport when they knew their mum was finally coming home.

“They looked puzzled and asked where I was because it wasn’t the apartment they could see in the background. I told them we had managed to get a flight home and I was in Doha. They cried and I cried. I was just so relieved to be nearly home.”

The New Zealand Government had put in place, the compulsory 14-day managed isolation for anyone returning to New Zealand. So, Susan and Gabby spent their time in The Crowne Plaza Auckland.

“It may sound glamorous but the reality is you are confined to a small room, all day, for two weeks. The highlight of my day was leaving my room and going down to level 4 for my Health check” she laughed.

Susan says she shared the flight home from Doha, with former All Blacks Ben Smith with his family as well as Colin Slade and his family. Also, on the flight was former Governor-General, Jerry Mateparae.

Kahurangi White-Parsons

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Family and rugby have played an important role for Rotorua mother of two Kahurangi White-Parsons.

The 43-year-old says as a child, rugby was a focal point for her family.

“When we were growing up, all my brothers and cousins all played. My mother and father all had a history with rugby, especially with Waikite Rugby Club. We grew up with it. I’ve never played myself, because I was a netball girl.”

Besides studying for her Masters in business management and raising her two children Gryffyn (7) and Eilonwen (5), Kahurangi also finds the time to hold the role of chairperson for Central Bay of Plenty Junior Rugby.

“They were doing a reform of the committee looking for new members. Because we are all iwi related, you travel around the same social circles. My husband Dennie was asked if he knew anyone who would be interested in taking the role on. He said he knew someone who can do it."

The Ngati Whakaue and Ngati Manawa descendant says her mother Diane White (81) is her inspiration.

“I think the best way to describe my mum is, always present. Dad was away working; mum was just always there. She was the second eldest in her family of 12.

“So, that mothering role was always in her. She is a massive role model for me and she made sure we never went without.”

The staunch Waikite supporter says the club has a real whānau atmosphere.

“I’ve just always enjoyed the game, the passion behind it and as I got older, I started to get involved in the social side of it. Just like my mum, I think whānau is important and you get a great sense of whānau at Waikite.

“Dennie and I have been lucky, we have been around the world with our kids. But I said we need to come home to New Zealand. To get to know the culture and the sense of community and the wider whānau. I think that is really important.”

Hannah Ward

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Bree Meyer doesn’t condone family violence but when it comes to rugby, she has no hesitation “smashing” her mother Hannah Ward.

The pair are rugby rivals. Bree plays for Rangataua and Hannah plays for Mount Maunganui. The 20-year-old says on the field, there is a lot of family rivalry but once they are off the field, they return to a loving family unit.

“Honestly, it’s so competitive. It’s like when you play your mates on the rugby field you just want to smash them and that’s the same with my mum. Of course, there is a lot of friendly banter as well and we get a little bit cheeky to one another. I love playing against my sister and my mum.”

Bree says she admires her mum on and off the field.

“She’s just one of those experienced players that you see on the field and she seems to turn up everywhere at just the right time.”

Hannah has played rugby for 20 years and says the game has played a major role in the family’s life.
“Both my girls have been playing rugby since they were five. They started out at JAB and I was their coach.”

Last year, Hannah and her 19-year-old daughter Teagan played in the same team. She says she has always wanted her children to play any sport they were happy playing. But knowing they're enjoying the game she loves and having them play alongside her makes her proud to be their mum.

“We have had different times throughout the years, where we have all played together and that’s really special.”

Hannah says she has enjoyed the lockdown because it’s given her plenty of quality time with her four children Bree, Teagan, Kase and Reco.

“I’ve loved it, we are so busy as a family with sports. Kase is in the 1st and 2nd rugby team at Tauranga Boys and my partner Jason Henry is coaching at Tauranga Sports.

“We have had some training sessions together, just doing some ball skills and things like that. It’s been really great.”

Due to the lockdown, Hannah won’t be able to visit her mum Angie for Mother’s Day.

“It’s a bit unfortunate because they have lived overseas for quite a long time. So, this is the first time they have been home. But we are always in contact via phone.”

Hannah says she has a great mother.

“She’s amazing. My mum has always been incredibly supportive. Supportive in what’s best for us. She has always let us make our own decisions.

“We were never pressured to play a sport if we didn’t want to. We were bought up with a hard work ethic.”

Calli Perrott

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Former Volcanix player Calli Perrott says rugby has been the key to having a balanced life.

“It’s always been a priority for me to have balance in my life and rugby is a sport that gives back for me. It’s a stress relief and makes me feel good. The best friends I’ve made throughout my life has been through rugby.”

The 43-year-old has been playing rugby off and on since she was 18. She started off on the wing but made the move to the forwards where she has played loose forward and lock.

“Loose forward was the best position ever. In that position, you are doing the most. You have to be a real workhorse. You’re doing heaps of tackling and working hard throughout the game. I just really enjoy that.”

The mother of two boys and two girls ranging from 25 through to 3, says none of her children have taken up the sport.

“It’s frustrating for me that they haven’t played rugby. My eldest is in the army. So, he is really active. He’s played a little bit but he’s focused on the army. My other son is basketball mad and my daughter does netball. So, my hope is pinned on my 3-year-old,” she laughs.

Calli played for the 2019 Baywide Women’s Rugby Champions Rangiuru.

“It was just an amazing feeling. We were runners up the year before and Rangiuru hadn’t won it before then. It was really good to win it.”

The passion to play and help defend the title still runs strong in Calli’s veins.

“It’s been a little bit crazy not being able to play because of the lockdown. So, I’ve been running and doing online workouts. It will be great to get back on the field and try and defend our title, that’s for sure.”

Calli a former Volcanix player says she is focused on her family and her club.

“I really enjoyed playing for the Volcanix and after having Amaia, it was a real goal of mine was to get back in there. Because I love the intensity and focus and everything that comes with playing at that level. But for now is content to focus on being a mum.”

The SPARK procurement specialist says on Mother’s Day she will spend time with her children but will also go to visit her mum Anne Perrott.

“She had four kids and she worked really hard and raised us well. She focused on us but still managed to achieve things in her life as well. She is a real inspiration to me.”

Janie Kaafi

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Waimana Women Forward Coach Janie Kaafi says she can’t wait for club rugby to return.

The mother of five children, one boy, and four girls says the club has a lot of young players keen to have a crack at rugby.

Kaafi says all the senior players in the team are excited at the prospect of the COVID-19 level being lowered so they can show the young ones the ropes.

“I’m not getting any younger, but in order to bring our girls through all of our mums in the team are there to support them and show them the way. Otherwise, it’s harder to bring people on board.”

Waimana Rugby Club is a whānau orientated club Kaafi says.

“I think our management team, our core group are all mums, and we are all born and raised in Waimana. I think we are the drivers because we get involved with our kids to bring them through.

“Even when we know we are going down, we kind of kick our own arses to get back up there. It’s for the sake of our children. There are a lot of rugby players here but they are all too young.”

Kaafi says it’s a special moment to be on the field and share the exhilaration of playing beside your own daughter. She would know, her eldest daughter Jobice (21) played in the team last year.

“Yeah, it’s the only reason I do it. I get involved in their sports and give them the motivation to give it a crack.”

All five of Kaafi’s talented children have played rugby for Waimana JAB and for their secondary school. She says she would like to take credit for the skills on the field.

“I’d like to hope so, but their dad used to play for Waikato and his side of the family is very sporty, but I like to think it comes from the Kaafi side,” she laughs.

Kaafi says Mother’s Day in Waimana is a time for whānau.

“Because we are still in our bubbles our core group, we are all just going to spend Mother’s Day with our own whānau. The rest of our women will do the same thing because we come from all over the district.”

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