Rugby stars aid tsunami victims
In All Black rugby team member Neemia Tialata's home village in Samoa, 25 children were killed when it was devastated by the tsunami.
Back in New Zealand, and wanting to help, the Wellington Lions player took to his computer and designed a logo, featuring two green hands entwined, forming a heart, with a silver fern laid over the top.
When the team run on to the field at Westpac Stadium tomorrow night to face North Harbour, the players will be sporting the design on special white jerseys, which will then be signed and auctioned to help raise money for the Samoa Tsunami Relief Fund.
While none of Tialata's direct family were killed when the tsunami hit, the impact on his home village of Lalomanu was huge, he said. He had found it hard to concentrate on rugby, but designing the logo was a way to lend support.
"I know I can't be there, but I'm there in spirit. It's just a way to show my love."
Teammate and fellow All Black Piri Weepu suggested putting the design on special jerseys.
The team was excited about wearing the new strip, especially since many players were Pacific Islanders. No-one on the team had lost immediate family members, but many extended families were affected.
T-shirts with the logo will be sold at Saturday's game for $30.
Along with Rodney So'oialo and Ma'a Nonu, the pair also hit Wellington streets on Wednesday to help raise money. Nonu said it wasn't hard to get people to donate, though a little celebrity pulling power helped too. So'oialo said they just wanted to help the cause.
"This is something we're really passionate about, trying to help rebuild what has been damaged, and just taking the time off to do this."
The street appeal was organised by Wellington Free Ambulance and the Pacific Co-operation Foundation, and all funds went directly to the Samoan Government.
Other sports stars are also contributing to the fund. Black Caps Jesse Ryder and Ross Taylor, and All Whites captain Ryan Nelsen are auctioning signed sports equipment on Trade Me. The auctions close on Sunday.http://www.stuff.co.nz/sport/rugby/provincial/2969146/Wellington-Lions-stars-aid-tsunami-victims