Jarryd Hayne joins the culture club

TWO years ago, Jarryd Hayne knew nothing about Fijian culture.

Now his right calf is covered in a huge tattoo devoted to the Pacific Island's national rugby league team. Now he's made four trips back to meet family and locals that he counts as lifelong mates.
Now he's in talks to front Fiji's next tourism campaign.
And now you're about to see Jarryd Hayne - and his fellow NRL warriors - as you've never seen them before.
In a drive to raise awareness of their traditional cultures, 12 of rugby league's biggest identities have donated their names and frames to a special calendar that showcases costumes from their homelands.
For two days this week a photo studio in Alexandria was converted into an unlikely meeting place between the players - including Hayne, Fuifui Moimoi, Roy Asotasi, Petero Civoniceva and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves - and decorative artefacts from across the Pacific.

The calendar project is part of an upcoming cultural festival, Body Pacifica, which will be hosted at the Casula Powerhouse in Sydney's southwest from June 25-27.
Powerhouse curator Leo Tanoi, who had a playing stint with Cronulla during the 1990s, devised the idea of using the NRL's growing pool of Pacific Islander stars to help promote the festival.
It was brainstormed during a chance meeting with NRL welfare officer Nigel Vagana - who has driven programs for Polynesian players to re-embrace their roots since retiring in 2008 - at a wedding two months ago.
"It actually came about at David Peachey's wedding and I was the DJ," Tanoi revealed.

"I was talking to Nige about possibilities for the festival, and the desire for the community to re-connect with its culture. A lot of Nige's work at the NRL is about setting up cultural programs so it seemed like a match made in heaven that we use players to represent each region, because they are role models and people recognise them."

But no one expected such an overwhelming response. Yesterday, Civoniceva raced 50km from his re-signing announcement at the foot of the mountains to be adorned.
On Tuesday, Waerea-Hargreaves rushed from a Sydney Roosters recovery session to be photographed and even returned for an encore session later that afternoon with his own Maori props.
The remaining necklaces, grass skirts, head-dresses and weapons were all donated by a private collector, Todd Barlin, who displays more than 1000 cultural artefacts in his Paddington gallery.

"A lot of the artefacts are from Papua New Guinea, because I lived there," Barlin said. "The players just chose which items they liked, so it's a bit of a mix."

Vagana said the calendar's first print run would produce 5000 copies - with all funds to go back to the community.

"I didn't want something that was corny, with blokes sliding down a pole," he said. "We wanted something that was authentic and showed how proud the boys were of their individual heritage."

Hayne added: "[Before I played for Fiji in the 2008 World Cup] I didn't know anything about my culture.

"It's good to do things like this to make people more aware.

"Hopefully it will get the lads off the streets and into sport."

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Comment by Drake on August 12, 2010 at 8:11pm
Former Samoan rugby league star Nigel Vagana joined forces with Sydney based Photographer Greg Semu to produce a Calendar to raise money for the Pacific Island community in Sydney.

12 NRL players of polynesian descent posed for the calendar expressing their passion for their cultural roots. Players showcased include Ruben Wiki, Manu Vatuvei, Dene Halatau, Fuifui Moimoi, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Frank Puletua who also contributed as a graphic designer.

The calendar was launched as part of the Body Pacifica Arts Festival held in Sydney at the Casula Powerhouse arts centre.

Samoana Blogsite
Comment by Drake on August 12, 2010 at 8:09pm
THE cloud of racism casting a chill over rugby league lifted somewhat last night; after weeks of controversy the NRL was part of a celebration of cultural awareness.

It was timely. Past and present NRL stars came together to preview the Body Pacifica festival, staged in partnership with the NRL and with some of the code's biggest names as its faces. Or, more appropriately, its bodies.

A number of players, including Jarryd Hayne, Roy Asotasi, Michael Jennings, Fuifui Moimoi, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Petero Civoniceva, have posed for a calendar which is designed to celebrate Pacific island culture.

Also involved is Nigel Vagana, the former NRL centre who became the NRL's education and welfare officer, who has urged that educating all players is vital to avoid such controversies as the row surrounding Andrew Johns, Timana Tahu and indigenous superstar Greg Inglis.

Vagana believes education and the understanding of cultures should be a key part of ''being professional'' in rugby league.

''I read this quote recently, that education is the best tool, the most powerful tool, for change, and it can change the world,'' he said. 'That came from Nelson Mandela.''

Last night, at the Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre in Sydney's west, Vagana joined the likes of Nathan Cayless, Dene Halatau, Mickey Paea and Ben Roberts in a sneak peak at the festival and exhibition program. The exhibition will also feature artwork by Penrith player Frank Puletua.

''This is very important,'' Vagana said. ''Driving through the traffic on the M5 on the way out here, in pouring rain, it occurred to me that it's monsoon season on the islands. But to have guys like Nathan, Ben, Dene and Mickey come out here, it means so much to so many people.''

The former and current players on hand were also treated to a traditional feast, kava tasting.

The NRL's involvement in the festival came well before Tahu walked out on the NSW camp after hearing Johns's racial slurs during the recent State of Origin camp, but this venture should allow the code to claim it is making some strides towards understanding cultural differences.

Still, NRL boss David Gallop admitted this week that more was needed.

''It's not enough though to simply point to what we are doing,'' Gallop said. ''That Timana Tahu has had to face the issues that he has means that we need to do more.

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald


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