Whanganui’s two tribes: Kaierau vs Marist

By Jared Smith

Rivalry is renewed on derby weekend in Tasman Tanning Premier as cross-town neighbours and great foes Wanganui Car Centre Kaierau and Dave Hoskin Carriers Marist get set to dance again at the Country Club.

As well as the bragging rights between the town-mates, there is an undercurrent of concern with neither side having taken a big step forward into the season so far.

Both Kaierau and Marist made significant strides in 2021 – the former making their first Premier final in the modern era, while the latter got back into the semifinals for the first time since 2017.

They also split their matches by winning at the away ground – Kaierau picking up a 30-5 victory at Spriggens Park, before Marist claimed an emotional 22-21 win at the Country Club for their first derby success since 2018.

“It was a good day, I think of it fondly, and hope it can be the same this Saturday,” said Marist coach Travers Hopkins, in his third season in charge.

“This is one of the games the boys look forward to the most – there’s always something about playing against your mates.”

But coming into 2022 and both sides remain pointless on the table – Marist having the first match-ups against the power clubs Byford’s Readimix Taihape (38-16 loss) and Waverley Harvesting Border (29-10), while Kaierau are coming off the bye after being ineffectual against Border in their first game (38-22).

“It hasn’t been the best start, but from a coach’s point of view, we’ve actually played some good rugby for parts,” said Hopkins.

“We’ve been saying to the boys, ‘you have to go deep – you have to go 80 minutes’.”

Always rebuilding, Marist are having to do without franchise player Josaia Bogileka, while fellow Steelform Whanganui rep Viki Tofa is another departure, as is utility back Ashton Coates, while lock Lake Ah Chong is currently unavailable.

Once again, the eyes turn to the new generation, with Rangi Kui back at first-five after an excellent rookie season, and now looking to feed the ball to Jack O’Leary – the star of St John’s Whanganui Metro’s run to the 2021 MRU Colts title with 28 tries, while picking up several more for the Whanganui Development XV.

“He’s doing really well. He doesn’t have the luxury of a Heartland back inside of him, with Josaia moving on,” said Hopkins.

“But he doesn’t look out of sorts, as we knew he wouldn’t.

“It’s a young team when you cast your eye.”

Also coming out of that successful Metro team is prop Keightley Watson, while Saturday will see the debut of a new front rower joining the side from Canada’s Toronto Arrows – the club of Whanganui expat Sam Malcolm.

Kaierau’s new coaching team of Te Ahu Teki and Tony McBride have had an extra seven days to think about this first home competition game, and what they learned up in Waverley.

 “We felt the boys were flat in that first half – not the energy off the ball,” said McBride.

“We didn’t play to our game, stick to our patterns. Border knew we were doing fitness [work].”

The Premier squad trains together with the Kaierau Senior team, and McBride is hoping the intensity generated from that work will translate onto the pitch.

“We’re still struggling with a bit of injuries.

“The boys are feeling really confident and eager to get into it.”

Incumbent Whanganui front rower Jack van Bussel will make his return, while Tai Pulemagafa’s own injury recovery has improved enough to rejoin the starting lineup after scoring off the bench against Border.


The side will miss Joe Edwards in the pack, but is buoyed by the return of former Whanganui lock Matt Ashworth, who rejoins Josh Lane for what will no doubt be a willing tussle with Marist’s Brad O’Leary.

Injuries to two halfbacks open up an opportunity for young Curtis Krivan-Nutu, who joined the Senior team out of the Wairarapa.

This will make for a young pivot combination to go against Marist’s Kui and Rory Gudsell, with 2021 Whanganui High School 1st XV first-five Anthony Sellers holding the Kaierau No10 jumper.

The club will likely soon have the services for former Whanganui and Ratana utility back Cody Hemi once he has recovered from injury, adding his experience to the backline alongside the likes of Ethan Robinson and Dillon Adrole.

“We can’t wait to pick our top side and be ready to go,” said McBride.

The South Taranaki derby game will be played on Friday evening at Dallison Park, as the annual duck shooting night game sees Border host Settler’s Honey Ngamatapouri for the sixth straight season.

Since the night game concept was introduced in 2013, Border are unbeaten, previously accounting for Kaierau (twice), the Marton Premier side, Marist and Ngamatapouri since 2017.

The draw is


May 6: Waverley Harvesting Border vs Settler’s Honey Ngamatapouri, 7.35pm.

May 7: Wanganui Car Centre Kaierau vs Dave Hoskin Carriers Marist, 2.35pm.

Bye: Byford’s Readimix Taihape.