New Zealand American Football Federation
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Currently there are three leagues in New Zealand. Each is affiliated to the governing body.
- American Football Auckland
- American Football Canterbury
The New Zealand Steelblacks are the national team of New Zealand, formerly known as the New Zealand Ironblacks.
A list of various NZ representative teams through the years
NZ team names will vary depending on governing body.
1983 NZ ALLSTARS vs US ARMED FORCES ALL-STARS.
1985 NZGFA team was selected but never played due to no opponent.
1986 NZ WARRIORS vs WILLIAM JEWEL COLLEGE, MISSOURI.
1986 NZ VS USA EAGLES.NCAA DIV 3 SELECTION.
1987 NZ VS PACIFIC LUTHERAN SELECTION, WASHINGTON.
1987 NZ WARRIORS vs QUEENSLAND TAIPANS. GAME 1
1987 NZ WARRIORS vs QUEENSLAND TAIPANS GAME 2.
1988 NZ VS AUGSBURG COLLEGE, MINNESOTA.
1991 NZ WARRIORS vs QUEENSLAND TAIPANS.
1991 SOUTH AUCKLAND RAIDERS vs GRIDIRON VICTORIA.
1992 NZ WARRIORS VS GUSTAVUS ADOLPHUS COLLEGE
1992 WELLINGTON CAPITALS vs DOANE COLLEGE, NEBRASKA.
1992 WELLINGTON GIANTS vs DOANE COLLEGE, NEBRASKA.
1993 NZ GLADIATORS vs QUEENSLAND TAIPANS.
1996 NZ HAKA vs AUSTRALIAN OUTBACK.
1996 WELLINGTON HURRICANES vs DOANE COLLEGE, NEBRASKA.
1997 WELLINGTON STORM vs DOANE COLLEGE, NEBRASKA.
1997 NZ HAKA vs AUSTRALIAN ALLIES.
1997 NZ HAKA vs AUSTRALIAN BUSHRANGERS.(ANZAC BOWL)
1997 NZ ALLSTARS vs DIXIE STATE UNIVERSITY, UTAH.
1997 NZ ALLSTARS vs SNOW COLLEGE,UTAH.
1997 NZ ALLSTARS vs RICKS COLLEGE, IDAHO.
1998 NZ HAKA vs AUSTRALIAN ALLIES.
1999 NZ HAKA (DOWN UNDER BOWL).
2001 NZ HAKA vs AUSTRALIAN OUTBACK.
2001 NZ HAKA COLTS vs ARIZONA ALLSTARS.
2001 NZ HAKA COLTS vs KENTUCKY ALLSTARS.
2001 NZ HAKA vs NW USA ALLSTARS.
2003 NZ HAKA COLTS vs KENTUCKY ALLSTARS.
2003 NZ HAKA COLTS vs TENNESSEE ALLSTARS.
2003 NZ HAKA COLTS vs AUSTRALIA (OCEANIA BOWL).
2003 NZ/AUS (TDU/ARENA) vs QUAD CITY STEAMWHEELERS.
2003 AUCKLAND VULCANS vs DOANE COLLEGE, NEBRASKA.
2003 NZ IRON BLACKS vs AUSTRALIA.
2003 NZ IRON BLACKS COLTS vs AUSTRALIA.
2005 NZ OVERSTAYERS (ARENA) vs CENTRAL VALLEY COYOTES.
2005 NZ IRON BLACKS vs AUSTRALIAN OUTBACK.
2009 NZ OVERSTAYERS (ARENA) vs MILWAUKEE IRON.
2009 NZ IRON BLACK COLTS vs AUSTRALIA (JWC QUALIFIER).
2009 NZ IRON BLACK COLTS vs CANADA (JWC, CANTON. OHIO).
2009 NZ IRON BLACK COLTS vs GERMANY (JWC, CANTON. OHIO).
2009 NZ IRON BLACK COLTS vs FRANCE (JWC, CANTON. OHIO).
2015 NZ STEEL BLACKS COLTS vs AUSTRALIA (JWC QUALIFIER).
2016 NZ STEEL BLACKS VS AMERICAN SAMOA.
2016 NZ STEEL BLACKS COLTS VS AUSTRALIA.
American Football has been played in New Zealand in an organised form since 1981. With early scrimmages taking place as far back as 1978, the basis of which saw the formation of the Metro Lions and Henderson Rangers clubs in Auckland. There were 4 original clubs, based in Auckland; South Auckland Saints, Metro Lions, Henderson Rangers and North Shore. 2 of those clubs remain today, the Saints as South Auckland Raiders and the Mountain Lions as Metro Lions. Much later competition was started in Wellington and other clubs were formed in places like Whangarei, Tauranga, Hamilton, Wanganui, Palmerston North and Levin.
1940's exhibition football was played in war time New Zealand, with games put on by US serviceman during WW2. Reported games were played in both Auckland and Wellington between rival US warships.
1949 sees the first reported NZ football player to make a US college team. Joe Hapi from the Hawkes Bay area appears on the BYU Cougars football team as an offensive lineman.
1964 saw exhibition football played in Gisborne as elders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints put on a game complete with full equipment for the locals. Kaiti Trojans played the Te Hapara Packers.
Once again in the late 70's, elders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints introduced football to the Polynesian communities in Auckland and Hamilton, which would lead to the early scrimmages and the competition in Auckland as we know it today.
1983 saw the San Francisco 49ers draft high-profile USC linebacker Riki Ellison. Riki's presence in the NFL would help promote the game to NZers and prove that Kiwis could make it in professional American Football.
During the late 80's NZ Football received unprecedented media coverage when TV3 began to broadcast NFL highlights packages and Sky Sports would televise the Super Bowl live. The then NZGFA sports information director Ed Mason's work, especially in the newspaper print media was essential to spreading the word that American Football had now well and truly arrived in NZ.
There have been a succession of governing bodies for the sport with the current NZAFF being recognised by the NZ Government and with membership from all of the regions playing football; Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington and Christchurch. Twice in its history, there have been organisational splits with competing leagues being formed. In the late 1980s there was the NZ Gridiron Football Association and the NZ American Football League, in the late 1990s and early 2000s there was Gridiron New Zealand and the NZ American Football Association. On both of these occasions, the leagues rejoined each other and overcame their differences.
1989 saw former NZAFL founder George O'Scanlon establish the ISSI for athletes in Australia, which would go on to introduce the Down Under Bowl concept in the Southern Hemisphere. A tournament NZ would eventually send teams to Australia to compete in. Down Under Bowl directors George O'Scanlon and former Utah State University head coach and BYU special teams coach Chris Pella were instrumental in bringing numerous football programs to NZ in the 1980s and creating countless pathways for NZ football players who wanted pursue the game further in the US.
Gridiron NZ saw the introduction and much needed promotion of age grades to American Football in NZ, a component essential to its continued growth over the years.
Likewise, there has also been a number of athletes appearing on NFL rosters in last few years with NZ roots including Stephen Paea(Bears, Redskins, Browns), Tevita Finau (Jets, Texans), Kona Schwenke (Seahawks), Rhett Ellison (Vikings) and most recently BYU rugby convert Paul Lasike (Cardinals, Bears). Others to try out for NFL spots over the years include Will Hinchcliff (Redskins), Nic Purcell(Eagles), Joe Tuineau(Jets), Johan Asiata (Bears) and Abe Markowitz (Seahawks).
American Football Auckland Club Profiles There have been a number of clubs in New Zealand since the games inception, only 2 original clubs remain but some of the others have been:
Metro Lions:  Originally known as the Mountain Lions. A foundation club that ran out of Potters Park in Mount Eden. Founding members included Pose Tafa, Willie-John Stowers and Peter Tuai. To their credit they continue to this day and are one of the most successful clubs in the country. They are the Metro Lions and were one of the first club to supply players to US College football and the NFL. Most notable was Mark Nua who received a full football scholarship to play at the University of Hawaii. Mark Nua was drafted in the NFL by the Detroit Lions before eventually landing on the San Diego Chargers roster. Mark also played in the World League of American Football for the Sacramento Surge. Also attending the University of Hawaii was sprinter and part-time actor John Freeman. Another of the pioneer Metro Lions to attend college was Toa Sagapolu who played for the University of California Berkeley, playing in the famous Citrus Bowl in 1992 in Orlando. Former Toa Samoa and NZ Warriors rugby league player Shannon Stowers also attended Utah State University. Arena Football player and NZ AF2 agent Jason Vaka spearheaded a large group of Metro Lions and NZ athletes to play in the AF2 leagues. More recently William Hodgman attended Arizona Western College. Also Houston Noema, City College of San Francisco Rams and Lone Toailoa Isara, Mt San Antonio College. The club today is based out of Grey Lynn Park. Colours: Black jerseys and silver pants.
South Auckland Raiders:  A founding club who were originally named the South Auckland Saints. Foundation members included Lawrence Tafa, Arthur Beazley, and Colin Tavui. When the Auckland league first split into two in the early 1980s, they changed their name to the Xerox Raiders and changed their colours to purple and silver. Initially heavily influenced by members of the Morman church who supplied coaching and local players. Former Tongan RWC player Joe Tuineau who attended SE Missouri University spent time on the NY Jets roster. Colours: Red with white numbers and black pants, later white jerseys with orange numbers and pants.
Henderson Rangers: A founding club and under the direction of NZ gridiron pioneer, George O’Scanlan. They also provided players to the US College system. Former Manu Samoa and Auckland rugby star Timo Tagaloa was the first NZ athlete to receive a full football scholarship to Utah State University. Also JC college and rugby league player Robert Marsom who spent time at Eastern Utah and El Camino colleges. Henderson Rangers continued as a successful club for many years before folding in the early 2000s. Colours: Dark Green with white numbers, gold pants and helmets, later royal blue jerseys with white numbers and red trim, blue pants with red and white stripes, red helmets.
North Shore: North Shore was one of the 4 founding clubs in NZ football. Essentially it was based out of Long Bay College where an American teacher Wes Edwards put together a very good team. Star players included Joe Fepuleai, David Woods and Nick Leger, both of who would go on to play for the Roskill Rams and Mt Albert Mustangs. While lacking in size, they did the basics well, especially the sweep with their quick backs. The club lasted for only a few years before folding and several players joining other established teams. Colours: Red with yellow numbers and white pants.
Roskill Rams: The first of the expansion clubs founded by Tony Andrews with the assistance of Mark Nua and Wayne Wright and was made up mainly of former Metro Lions players. Was very successful in their first season taking out the league championship, continued as a strong club until the late 1980s when players left en-masse to form the Mount Albert Mustangs. Notable player included another former Manu Samoa rugby star Sam Kaleta who reportedly went to University of Arizona before returning to rugby. Also former NZ Maori All Black Paul Tuoro. Former team kicker Michael Chalberg would be the rare recipient of a full football scholarship to the University of Minnesota. Struggled for many years after that before folding in the early 90s. Brothers Ritch and Chris Tia attended Snow College in Utah, before returning to play for the Metro Lions after the Rams folded. Colours: Forest Green jerseys with white numbers, pants and helmets, later, red jerseys with white numbers, pants and helmets, later, royal jerseys with white numbers and pants.
Manurewa Miners: Obviously from Manurewa and started with a core of players from the Roskill Rams who lived in South Auckland and had been travelling long distances to train. These included former Metro Lions Ray Coulson and Rob Billington. Rob Billington also played a season of football at Eastern Utah. Always strong but only lasted 4 or 5 years. Most notable former player was David Dixon who attended Ricks College and Arizona State University. David Dixon was drafted into the NFL by the New England Patriots and earned a Super Bowl ring as a member of the Dallas Cowboys practice squad. Eventually David became a 9-year starter with the Minnesota Vikings. Dark Green jerseys and pants with yellow trim.
Manukau City Stallions: Founded by former Metro Lions and South Auckland Saints player Don Macleod and fellow Saints player Tony Fuimaono. At the time of formation they were the southernmost club in the country, despite only being situated 30 minutes south of the harbour bridge. They were based in Manukau City and attracted a good player base and following from that area. Benefitted from the fact that the founder was the official Rawlings representative in NZ. Former player Parrish Macleod played football at Orange Coast College before transferring to University of the Pacific. Colours: Sky blue jerseys and pants, white numbers and helmets.
Tip Tip Bulldogs: Another fiercely competitive team from the power base of South Auckland. Founding members include John and Eddie Tavae, Tom and Roy Bourke, John Rima, Moe Faaofo and Mose Petaia. Bulldogs were also managed by Rona and Lafuga Lokeni.
Papatoetoe Wildcats:  Originally formed as part of the NZAFL expansion by Pose Tafa and known then as the Central Pirates.The initial squad was a mixture of Roskill Rams and Metro Lions players who went back to their old clubs when the NZGFA competition restarted. Based out of Penrose High School. Eventually they changed their name to the East Auckland Wildcats when the 2 leagues merged and are now better known as the Papatoetoe Wildcats. Winning the Auckland competition in the 2016 and 2017 season they are on the way to being one of the most successful clubs in New Zealand. Their first US college player was Houdini Nua who attended University of Utah. Colours: Red jerseys, black pants and black helmets.
Waitemata Rebels: Another of the inaugural NZAFL expansion teams, which was essentially the Henderson Rangers team represented in a different competition. Colours: All white strip.
North Shore Guardians: NZAFL expansion North Shore team. Coached by Dixon Lupo. Colours: Dark blue jerseys and white pants.
Northland Nuggets: A Whangarei-based team founded by Northland Rugby legends the Going family. Team was set up with the assistance of the South Auckland Saints but only lasted a short time before folding.
Hamilton Hawks: Founded and originally coached by Canadian Ralph Lovell and carried on by the Williams family. Another successful expansion club from the mid 80s which remains the power base of football in the Waikato region. Consistently competitive club through the decades at all age group levels.
Mount Albert Mustangs: Formed in the late 1980s with a large number of members from the Roskill Rams and immediately started a 7-year dynasty where they reigned as champions. A strong family emphasis was the key to the club's success with a great line up of athletes including the Fepuleai's, Rawhiti's, Opetaia's, Legers, Seumanu's, Amiatu's amongst many others. Colours: Maroon jerseys with gold numbers, pants and helmets.
North Shore Knights A North Shore club founded by former South Auckland Raiders pioneer Colin Tavui. Another spin off from the NZAFL.
Waikato Spears:  A club formed with a combination of Hamilton Hawks and Mustangs players. Another overnight powerhouse who dominated the league for a few years before folding. The club re-emerged again in the Australian Capital Territories competition as the Central Spears.
Wolverines: A South Auckland team that was started by Eddie and John Tavae. Always very strong and physical. Played in black with yellow trim, had the ripping claw decal on their black helmets.
Central Cougars Based out of Mt Roskill. Also formerly known as the Central Jaguars. An amalgamation of players from the Roskill Rams and Wolverines when both clubs folded in the late 90s. Played in Pittsburgh Steelers colors of black, white and yellow.
North Shore Bears: One of a procession of teams that formed and folded in short order on Auckland's North Shore. Based by the harbour bridge at Stafford Park and played in a replica of the Cleveland Browns distinctive uniform.
Waipuna Sharks: The Waipuna Sharks were based in the Glen Innes, Mount Wellington area. Their formation, playing and coaching success was based around Wayne Boyd who was an early star running back playing for Henderson Rangers. Played in navy blue with silver pants.
Manukau City Islanders: Another very strong and physical side, populated in the main [as the name suggests] by Pacific Islanders. They were a powerhouse for a number of years but tended to lack discipline on the field and that resulted in their demise. Despite trying to get back up and running a few times, they failed to do so. Navy blue jerseys and pants with gold numbers, navy helmets with a big gold roman letter I on the side.
Hamilton Bulls: A late 90s expansion team in the Hamilton area. Lasted a few years before folding.
Tamaki Lightning: The Tamaki Lightning was started in 1999 as one of the founding clubs of the Gridiron New Zealand (GNZ) organisation. First coached by Adam Campbell. Frustrated at how the sport of American Football was being run, this new league focused on promoting juniors football along with improving the fundamental football skills and overall general level of play. As a result, the early years of the Tamaki Lightning were highlighted by the number of teams available to the community. Not only did they have the Premier (seniors) Team that still plays today, there was also U13, U15, U17, U19, 8-a-side, and Women's teams playing in competitions. To provide a top level of coaching to all of these teams, the first 10 years of the Lightning also featured a number of international imports from around the world – The United States, Canada, Italy, Switzerland and Austria to name a few. Andy Nordine who toured NZ with the visiting Doane College Tigers amongst others.
North Harbour Pride: The North Harbour Pride was formed in 1999 as an originating club within the Gridiron New Zealand organisation. The club began with the development of a senior team and 2 under 14 teams. For the first year and most of the second season, the head coach was ex NFL player, Mark Nua. 2001 saw North Harbour Pride importing American player / Head Coach Joe Ashfield and receiver Matt Wegge, both from Minneapolis. Founded by GNZ pioneer Wayne Wright. Former coach Joe Ashfield is currently an assistant coach with Stanford University. Since the merger of the 2 leagues the club remains without a Seniors team, but it's Juniors team remains very competitive. The club continues with the promise of senior teams to expand into the future.
North Peninsula Panthers: West Auckland club from the 2000s
Waitakere Typhoon: Another West Auckland club concentrating on juniors grade.
Western Wolves: Another recent expansion team of the NZAFF era that has evolved in the new AFA competition.
JC Spartans: Founded on the idea of Bart Tamehana-King, a senior student at James Cook High. He suggested getting an American Football team together to help keep students on the straight and narrow. Originally coached by Alex Cunnard. Based in South Auckland at Montfort Park, Manurewa. Green and white jerseys.
Papakura Kings: Another new club founded in 2016 by Gaileen Thew. Foundation treasurer Daniel Newman secured funding from the Whanau O Tumanako Charitable Trust to get the club started. Based in Papakura. Like most new clubs, emphasis is on youth football with Juniors and Colts teams.
Otara Scorpions: Another new club in the Juniors competition. Founded by Lani Ekepati.
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