and one of the most inspiring stories in
New Zealand sporting history is about to reach a climax.
Long one of New Zealand's poorest and most isolated provinces, East
Coast is about 80% Maori, mainly of the Ngati Porou tribe. For years,
the coast's rugby team had languished at the bottom of the lowest
division in the national championship.
But then something changed. Riding a wave of near fanatical support,
Ngati Porou-East Coast stormed its way up the tables to meet the Hawke's
Bay Magpies in the second division final. It was a home game for the
Magpies, but East Coast's sky-blue fans
outnumbered the Magpie's supporters three to one.
East Coast lost, but for the fans it hardly seemed to matter. They had
won something more important - pride in the place they call home.