Vodafone Warriors players were transformed into working bees when they got their hands dirty helping to establish a fruit and vegetable garden at Weymouth Primary School in Manukau City.
It was another cause the club supported through its Community Co-op programme, a campaign which aims to assist different groups of people, organisations and/or community causes through the Vodafone Warriors volunteering time and resources to those who could benefit from it the most.
The “working bee” garden at the school is sponsored by OKE Charity, which focuses on implementing its “growing a future” initiative in low decile schools throughout New Zealand.
“We are trying to develop life and social skills in our kids by providing fruit and vegetable gardens to schools,” said OKE Charity chief Paul Dickson.
After a powhiri, the Vodafone Warriors players were divided into groups to assist with various stations which involved shovelling soil, cutting timber, building wheelbarrows, moving greenhouses, planting, building shelving units and painting.
Captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck was keen to get among the action commenting on how gardens are a big part of kiwi life.
"We [the Vodafone Warriors] just want to get around and help as much as we can. It's interesting to see the kids get behind it,” he said.
"Backyard gardens are part of Kiwi life.”
Halfback Shaun Johnson says isn’t much of a gardener but doesn’t mind doing it when it comes to community opportunities like this.
“It’s really rewarding with kids around. Some kids are big Vodafone Warriors fans so that’s always special as well,” said Johnson.
“I guess for them to see us in their school doing this sort of thing is pretty cool.”
Veteran Manu Vatuvei claims that he is more of a handyman than a gardener.
"I'm a good handyman and love to get dirty. I do the lawns," he laughs.
"It's awesome for us as a club to go out and help the community. It's what we like to do."
The OKE Working Bee is aiming to have all primary schools in Papatoetoe and nearby set up with a garden by the end of 2018. Currently they have gardens at Papatoetoe West School, Papatoetoe East School and Bairds Mainfreight Primary School in Otara. The programme is also supported by funds collected from the Head2Head Charity Walk which takes place annually.
Last year the event raised more than $50,000. However, for fundamental resources, it costs $10,000 to provide a school with a greenhouse, garden shed, compost bin, garden tools and potting tables to list a few. For those reasons, the organisation is open to donations and volunteers.