Wellington Rugby League is a leader amongst our Regional Sporting Organisations for the way they are driving their health and wellbeing strategy for the rugby league community in Wellington. Wellington Rugby League appointed a new CEO Andre Whittaker in January 2021, with this came a vision to embrace change and use the game of rugby league to create opportunities to connect with the community and build our collective wellbeing.

Wellington Rugby League and Healthy Families Hutt Valley partnered on a smokefree club, smokefree sport and smokefree code initiative. The initiative is a way of promoting Smokefree Aotearoa 2025, raising awareness that all playing fields are smokefree environments and encouraging a smokefree and vapefree generation. The initiative is supported by the services of Tākiri Mai te Ata, a Whānau Ora provider leading the Regional Stop Smoking Service. Tākiri Mai te Ata are able to work with whānau to address barriers that make it harder to stop smoking.

The partnership has continued to develop to include a focus on alcohol-free sidelines and strengthening the capability of coaches through a compulsory accreditation process. Coach accreditation is a critical strategy that contributes to changing the culture of the sport. Coaches develop a deeper understanding of the importance of the relationships they have with their players and adopt a person first approach towards coaching. This means supporting the whole person, not just their sporting performance.  

Andre Whittaker from Wellington Rugby League, Dan Keepa from New Zealand Rugby League and Healthy Families Hutt Valley’s own George Lajpold will be sharing more about this partnership in their Systems Change in Action webinar on 28 September. Find out more about the webinar series hosted by Healthy Families Waitākere and register to attend.