Did you know? Tonga’s first All Black

The first Tongan player to play for the All Blacks team was Walter Batty, who joined the New Zealand side 87 years ago in 1928.

Batty’s father was English, but his mother was a Tongan, Luʻisa Tupou,

Walter Batty was born in Tonga in 1905 and became an All Black in 1928.

Batty played six matches as a loose forward for the All Blacks, including three tests against the British and Irish Lions during their New Zealand tour of 1930, during which he scored a test try at Wellington.

He also played in a test match against Australia the following year.

An insurance agent by profession, Batty joined up and served as a sergeant in the royal New Zealand Artillery during the Second World War.

He won the Distinguished Conduct Medal after singlehandedly holding off an attack by Italian tanks in Libya until his unit could be reinforced.

He later became A Warrant Officer First Class.

And yet there have been questions about whether Batty should count as the first Islander to play for the all Blacks.

In a 2004 story, New Zealand Herald sports writer Chris Rattue said the first Polynesian player in the New Zealand side was Ponsonby loose forward Frank Solomon, who was born in American Samoa.

As an All Black he played three test matches against Australia in 1931, the same year as Batty.

A week later, Rattue ran a lengthy quote from Batty’s nephew, Richard Keyworth, who said:

“Walter Batty was definitely Polynesian. His father was English, but his mother Luisa Tupou was related to the royal family.

“Walter Batty was, certainly, the first Tongan All Black.

“Two other brothers played representative rugby, one played representative cricket and one sister played representative cricket.

“They most certainly paved the way for Polynesian sport in this country.”

So, what do you think?

Was Batty was the first Tongan to play  for the All Blacks or was it someone else?

And should he count as the first Polynesian to play for the New Zealand team?

Do you know Batty’s mother Luisa Tupou or more details about Batty’s Tongan connection? If so, please contact us at news@kanivatonga.nz.

Here is our list of Tongans who have played for the All Blacks. We have edited the list of Tongans who played for the All Blacks to include Arthur Jennings, Doug Charles Howlett and Carl Henry Hoeft. Players have been included if their player profiles mentioned Tongan nationality or descent. 

  1. Walter Batty – 1928
  2. Authur Jennings – 1967 (Fijian born, but of Tongan and English descent)
  3. Jonah Lomu – 1994
  4. Charles Riechelmann – 1997
  5. Carl Henry Hoeft – 1997
  6. ‘Isitolo Maka – 1998
  7. Pita ‘Alatini – 1998
  8. Kupu Vanisi – 1999
  9. Doug Charles Howlett – 2000
  10. Sam Tu’itupou – 2004
  11. Saimone Taumoepeau – 2004
  12. Sione Lauaki – 2005
  13. Anthony Tu’itavake – 2008
  14. Ben Afeaki – 2013
  15. Charles Piutau – 2013
  16. Frank Halai – 2013
  17. Malakai Fekitoa – 2014
  18. Augustine Pulu – 2015

Editor’s Note:

This is the first in what we hope will be a new series of feature stories highlighting aspects of Tongan history, the achievements of her people at home or in New Zealand or around the world. If you have a story idea, or know somebody or something you think we should write about, please contact us at Kaniva News at news@kanivatonga.nz.

For more information

The first Islands men to play for the All Blacks

Walter Batty’s military career (Auckland War Museum)

Bryan Williams lit the spark that ignited Polynesian fire (NZ Herald)

Whitaker has bided time long enough (NZ Herald)

1 COMMENT

  1. Ko e fuofua tangata Tonga ke vaʻinga ʻi he timi ʻa e ʻOlopelekí ko Walter Batty, ʻa ia ko e taʻu ʻaki ʻeni ʻe 87 ʻene hū talu ʻi he 1928.

    Ko e tangataʻeiki ʻa Batty ko e ʻIngilani ka ko ʻene faʻeé ko e Tonga, ko Lūʻisa Tupou.

    Naʻe fāʻeleʻi ʻa Walter Batty ʻi Tonga he 1905 pea ne ne ʻOlopeleki he 1928.

    Ne ne vaʻinga maʻa e ʻOlopelekí ʻi ha foʻi tau tesi ʻe ono kau ai ʻa e tau ʻe tolu mo e Laione ʻa Pilitānia mo ʻAilani lolotonga ʻene tua mai ki Nuʻu Sila ʻi he 1930 ʻa ia ne tataʻo ai ʻa Batty ʻi ha tesi ʻi Uelingatoni mo ha tesi ʻe taha mo ʻAositelēlia he taʻu hono hokó.

    Naʻá ne hoko ko ha ʻōfisa ngāue maluʻi moʻui peá ne kau mo ngāue ko e sātini ʻi he ngaahi meʻatau lalahi ʻa Nu’u Silá lolotonga e Tau Hono Uá.

    Ne foaki moʻona e mētali fakalāngilangi Distinguished Conduct Medal hili ia ʻene lava ʻo tali tekeʻi ha ʻohofi mei he ngaahi tangikētau ʻa ʻĪtalí ʻi Lipia kae ʻoua leva kuo fakatokolahi atu ʻene faʻahí.

    Ne ne toe hoko foki ko ha ʻŌfisa Fai Uāleni Kalasi ʻUluaki.

    Ka ʻoku ʻi ai foki ʻa e ngaahi fehuʻi ʻoku tuli mui mai he fakamatalá ni pe ko Batty ko ā ʻa e fuofua taha mei he ʻotu motú ke vaʻinga maʻa e ʻOlopelekí pe ‘ikai.

    ʻI he 2004 ne leleʻi ai ʻe he tokotaha fai lipooti sipoti koi a ʻa e New Zealand Herald, Chris Rattue ha fakamatala ʻo pehē ko e fuofua Polinisia ke vaʻinga maʻa e ʻakapulu fakafonua ʻa Nuʻu Silá ko e tokotaha luusi foueti maʻa Ponisonipī ko Frank Solomon, ʻa ia ne fāʻeleʻi ʻi Haʻamoa ʻAmelika.

    ʻI heʻene hoko ko e ʻOlopelekí ne vaʻinga ai ‘a Solomon ʻi ha tesi ʻe tolu mo ʻAositelēlia ʻi he 1931, taʻu tatau pe ʻeni ne vaʻinga ai ʻa Batty.

    Kae hili ha uike ʻe taha mei he fakamatala ko ‘ení ne toe leleʻi ʻe Rattue ha lau ʻa e nēfiu ʻo Batty ko Richard Keyworth ʻa ia ne ne pehē:

    “Ko Walter Batty ko e Polinisia moʻoni. Ko ʻene tamaí ko e ʻIngilani, ka ko ʻene faʻeé ko Lūʻisa Tupou pea ʻoku ʻi ai ʻene pīkinga ki he fale ʻo e tuʻí.

    Ko Walter Batty ʻa e fuofua Tonga moʻoni ne ʻOlopelekí.

    Ne ʻi ai mo ha ongo tautehina kehe ʻe toko ua ne na fakafofongaʻi ʻa e ʻakapulú, taha he kilikití pea mo e tuofefine ʻe taha he kilikití ai pē.

    Ko kinautolu ne nau tā mai e fihi ke hū mai ai e kau Polinisia sipotí ki he fonuá ni.

    Ka ko e hā haʻo lau?

    Ko Batty ʻa e fuofua Tonga ke vaʻinga maʻa e ʻOlopelekí pe ko ha taha kehe ia?

    ʻE lau nai koi a ʻa e fuofua taha Polinisia ke vaʻinga maʻa e timi ʻa Nuʻu Silá?

    ʻOkú ke ʻilo nai e faʻē ʻa Batty, ʻa Lūʻisa Tupou pe ha fakaikiiki lahi ange ki he fehokotakinga ʻa Batty mo Tonga? Kapau koi a kataki ʻo fetuʻutaki mai kia kimautolu ʻi he news@kanivatonga.nz

    Kapau ‘oku ‘i ai foki haʻo talanoa mahuʻinga fakahisitōlia peheni ke tau vahevahe mo ʻetau kau lau Kanivá peá ʻe lava foki ke ke ʻīmeiliʻi mai ki he news@kanivatonga.nz

    Ko e kau Tonga ‘eni kuo nau vaʻinga maʻa e ʻOlopelekí:
    1. Walter Batty – 1928

    2. Authur Jennings – 1967 (Fāʻeleʻi ʻi Fisi ka ʻoku ʻi ai hono konga palangi mo Tonga)

    3. Jonah Lomu – 1994

    4. Charles Riechelmann – 1997

    5. Carl Henry Hoeft – 1997

    6. ‘Isitolo Maka – 1998

    7. Pita ‘Alatini – 1998

    8. Kupu Vanisi – 1999

    9. Doug Charless Howlett – 2000

    10. Sam Tu’itupou – 2004

    11. Saimone Taumoepeau – 2004

    12. Sione Lauaki – 2005

    13. Anthony Tu’itavake – 2008

    14. Ben Afeaki – 2013

    15. Charles Piutau – 2013

    16. Frank Halai – 2013

    17. Malakai Fekitoa – 2014

    18. Augustine Pulu – 2015

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