Sipaia and Faitele Putting Taita College Sports on the Map


Story courtesy of College Sport Media

When alarm bells sound early in the morning most teenagers are reluctant to jump out of bed. This is not the case for Lei Sipaia at Taita College.

Every Tuesday the Year 10 student partakes in a method gymnasium course under the supervision of former Hurricanes and Lions Trainer Joel Marshall. Sipaia is halfway through the 20-week programme.

Comfortable bench pressing, squatting, or deadlifting, Sipaia adds great strength to any rugby or league team in which she features. Sipaia is already a regular representative selection or contender.

She has been a Pacific Island U14 and Wellington U16 league representative through the Wellington Orcas, Randwick Kingfishers Club, and Nga Hau e Wha o Wainuiomata Marae team.

In rugby, she was picked for a Wellington U18 Tongan team and narrowly missed inclusion in the New Zealand U15 Sevens team bound for the Rugby Heritage Cup in France in September.

“I started playing rugby for Avalon when I was seven. I love tackling,” Sipaia said.

I consider myself to be a strong backs player. “I can play wing, fullback, or centre.”

Perhaps the most impressive characteristic of Sipaia is her leadership. She is a big part of growing Taita Rugby as captain of its union team.  

“I aim to be a great leader. I am learning how I lead from the front, and learning about my teammates, their different cultures, and backgrounds. Getting to know my team is important, captain or not, we create a sisterhood, a bond that flows on and off the field.”

Sipaia is also on the senior volleyball and basketball teams despite being a junior.


One of Lei’s best friends is the reserved but brilliantly versatile Karly-Belle Mitchell-Pita. The Year 9 student excels in rugby, netball, and touch and has competed in the Coast to Coast. Her main code is basketball where she’s been a Hutt Valley representative. She admires Kobe Bryant.


The pair don’t have to look far for a positive role model. Disguised behind the mischievous grin and laconic chat of Wesley Faitele is a steely determination to achieve in sport.


Faitele (Year 12) is captain of the First XV where he plays first-five or midfield. He admires Daniel Carter. Despite a struggle for numbers this season, Faitele has helped Taita to two victories. He’s been ever more influential in basketball where his prolific scoring and assured ball handling does its best to emulate his basketball hero Devin Booker.


He is also a Wellington volleyball representative. Taita College is rebuilding after their epic 2022 season which saw them crowned College Sport Wellington champions.


“Sport is good. It helps you make friends and be more confident about yourself,” Faitele said. 


Faitele was recently selected for the Wellington Samoan Under 18’s and is now training with Joel Marshall.



Article added: Friday 11 August 2023


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