Vodafone Warriors members and fans turned out in massive numbers to celebrate the launch of the Harvey Norman Community Warriors initiative at Harvey Norman Manukau on Monday.
With the club's full NRL squad in attendance, supporters waited patiently in long queues for their chance to see their heroes at Harvey Norman's huge store at Manukau City's Supa Centre.
There were six stations in operation. Inside fans queued to pose with players at four photo stations while outside they were also there in big numbers at a signing station or at the passing wall with another group of players.
The carnival day was held to mark the launch of Harvey Norman Community Warriors last Thursday, a three-year partnership between the Vodafone Warriors and Harvey Norman which is taking the club's community programme to a new level.
Through their association the two partners will introduce a range of initiatives which will engage both Harvey Norman and the Vodafone Warriors with the community.
Vodafone Warriors managing director Jim Doyle said the creation of the Harvey Norman Community Warriors enhance the club’s community involvement and focus.
“This is a momentous day for both of us,” he said.
“As a club we pride ourselves in the way we connect with our community and we know Harvey Norman shares the same desire to make a difference to people’s lives.
“With Harvey Norman on board we will lift our level of engagement to unprecedented levels, not just in and around Auckland but throughout New Zealand.”
Harvey Norman chief operating officer John Slack-Smith said the company was thrilled to be able to link with the Vodafone Warriors to lead a nationwide community programme.
“Harvey Norman have been part of the New Zealand community for nearly 19 years,” he said.
“We are so proud to partner with the Community Warriors programme to extend what we can do in areas that matter most to families; in our hospitals, in our schools and supporting local community programmes.
“Vodafone Warriors fans, our customers and our staff all have the opportunity to be involved in what is genuinely a quality community programme.
“We look forward to welcoming the entire Vodafone Warriors team and the 2016 community ambassadors Jerome Ropati and Georgia Hale to our Manukau store on Monday to help us all celebrate Auckland Anniversary Day. Enjoy the long weekend.”
Harvey Norman Community Warriors will be on the road five times this year when the club visits Whangarei (February 13) and Nelson (February 20) for NRL trials as well as regular season NRL games against Canterbury-Bankstown in Wellington (April 16), Penrith in Christchurch (May 14) and Canberra in New Plymouth (May 21).
Vodafone Warriors community manager Petrece Kesha said new programmes will feature in the Harvey Norman Community Warriors’ portfolio.
“One of the most significant is the creation of a community classroom in the West Stand at Mount Smart Stadium,” she said.
“It will provide a unique learning environment for primary and intermediate school children with the benefit of enabling us to involve more players in the programmes more often.
“Harvey Norman Community Warriors will present a club values programme which will teach pupils how to use the Vodafone Warriors’ values in their lives.”
Kesha said the classroom would also be used to hold holiday programmes during school holidays.
The Konica Minolta-sponsored League in Libraries literacy programme will again be run and another major initiative is set to be launched next month.
A Harvey Norman Little Warriors Zone will be a key feature at every home game day at Mount Smart Stadium with activities including face painting, a photo booth, Harvey Norman autograph cards signed by non-playing players and a passing wall.
The Harvey Norman Community Bay in the West Stand will provide an opportunity for community groups to attend and experience a Vodafone Warriors home game.
Kesha said core charity partners will be involved in the Harvey Norman Community Warriors’ programme including KidsCan, Kidz First Children’s Hospital and Shine.