The U Matter Volleyball Tournament was held in Levin this month and supported by Whānau Manaaki Piri'anga Alofa Pacific and Community Services. This was a community event that provided experiences and opportunities for young local volleyball players in Horowhenua. The tournament also had a health component, where the entry fee was not money, but a mandatory health check! This is one of a number of U-Matter Tournaments that aim to improve Pacific health outcomes - the U-Matter Touch Tournament was held in February this year too.

Tournament coordinator and Piri'anga Alofa Pacific and Community Services Whānau Ora Navigator Lead, Alice Mose-Tuialii (pictured on the left) said:

“Our messaging is, you're not paying $200 to play but the value of you getting a health check is about YOU. You matter, your health matters. And that you as a Pasific Islander who is great at volleyball, you do actually matter”.

The tournament included 40 volleyball teams and resulted in 265 health checks for the participants. Most of those competing were from Pacific backgrounds, and around 60 percent were males.


Many of the men who took part had not had a holistic health check before and did not regularly see a GP. Around half the men tested had potential signs of diabetes, and about half had high blood pressure.

The event proved to be a positive way of promoting health in the community for a group that is hard to reach and a step towards improving the health outcomes of Pacific Islanders. One player interviewed said:

"My overall experience with this tournament has been great. I really enjoy being here. Being around people who actually look like me, and act like me. I don't have to be a different person here!"

When the teams arrived to compete, one team from a local college caught the eye of the referee delegate for the tournament, Nuuvea Fuamatu (known as Matu).

Matu is a Levin based staff member of Whānau Manaaki who has played volleyball at a national and international level. He has extensive experience coaching volleyball in colleges and for regional rep teams and offered to coach the team. Matu recognised the raw talent of some of the players and was keen to nurture this.

Whānau Manaaki was able to use Whānau Ora funding to help meet the needs of the young men from Horowhenua College. Another Whānau Manaaki staff member, Kadence Mose-Tuialii, has been coaching the girls’ team (pictured above) with support from Matu.  Navigator Lead Alice Mose-Tuialii stepped in as manager, and the team was ready to step up.

This year the boys’ team qualified from the fourth division in 2023 to the second division, and was runner up at the Manawatu volleyball regional tournament, coming second to a well-established team.  

Alice says it’s been awesome to watch the young men grow in confidence. “It’s been rewarding, absolutely, a humbling experience.”  She says their teachers have reported a change in attitude, to schoolteachers and classmates as a result of the volleyball success.

“It’s using sport to provide a safe space for Pacific students to grow and achieve.”

The video below was created by Pacific Media Production Company TAMS  

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