Passion and Steel: Mike Faimalo & Ana Iata – Porirua College

Porirua is a hotbed of Wellington sporting talent with countless personalities enjoying success at the national and international levels. In 2020 a new generation of Porirua athletes are making waves at high school and may one day themselves become household names. College Sport Wellington went on tour to meet some of these outstanding young talents. 

Porirua College narrowly missed a place in the Premier I Rugby Premiership on July 4, pipped 27-22 by Aotea College in the final grading fixture.

Missing out on the top flight wasn’t through a lack of desperation. Prop Mike Faimalo, in his fourth year of First XV rugby, shares the injury he battled through in the first grading game – a 36-10 loss against Wellington College.

“I hyperextended my elbow in the first scrum. I heard a click when it happened. I couldn’t really straighten my arm, but I played on. I didn’t want to let the boys down,” Faimalo revealed.

Courage of that ilk can’t be manufactured, it runs in the family. Faimalo is related to both Robbie Fruean and Alapati Leiua, the schools’ most accomplished rugby alumni. An older brother Misi Faimalo is on an AFL scholarship with the St Kilda Saints, but Faimalo identified another role model, All Black Dane Coles.

“I like Dane because he runs like a back and shows good leadership on and off the field. He’s really humble.”

“I try to lead slowly and steady, do my job well and help others when I can,” Faimalo said.

Porirua will need humility to get their season back on track. They compete in Premier II after the school holidays and will look to return serve upon their local rivals in the Beard Trophy, starting July 29.

The Beard Trophy is the Ranfurly Shield of Porirua secondary schools rugby. It has been running for 52 years and sees four matches played every season. At the start of the year, the current holder (Aotea College) draws the challengers in order that the game will be played out of a hat. If the holder is beaten then the next challenger plays the new holder in the next scheduled match and so on.

In 2017 Porirua beat Bishop Viard to claim the prize then held off successive challenges from Mana, Aotea, Tawa, and Mana again.  Winning the Beard Trophy runs deep.

“The Beard Trophy is very special. It makes strong men crumble,”  Faimalo asserted.

There isn’t yet an equivalent trophy for females but Ana Iata believes it’s possible one day. The winger scored two tries in the final of the Wellington Girls’ rugby premiership last year as a combined Porirua outfit outclassed their opponents.

A Wellington Under 18 representative plays on the wing and looks up to former Porirua College student and Black Fern Ayesha Leti-I’iga – the record holder for the most tries for Wellington.

“She spoke at assembly and shared her experiences with us. It was really inspiring,”  Iata acclaimed.

“It would be cool to have more competition. Last year we only played three or four games.”

Against Wellington East Girls’ College, she was scratched in the eye and sported a patch around the school for several days.

“Rugby is a tough sport, but I really like the physical challenge,” Iata said.

Volleyball is a flourishing sport at Porirua. The senior boys’ team won the College Sport Wellington regional title in March and the school boasts junior and senior boys and girls squads.

Iata plays in the senior girls’ team, taking up the code last year.

“I’m an outside hitter and play on the left side. It’s a fun sport, really fast-paced. We did alright at Regionals, but I think we could do better next year,” the Year 12 warned.


-Story Courtesy of College Sport Media