Requiem mass to be held on Monday for priest who coached Tonga’s national team on ’69 tour

Pekia Pātele David Mullins pe ne 'iloa ko Pātele Tāvite 'a ia ne fai fatongia 'i Tonga 'i ha ta'u nai 'e 35 he siasi Katolika'. Na'a' ne faiako he timi 'akapulu 'iunioni fakafonua 'a Tonga' pe 'Ikale Tahi he ta'u 1960 tupu pea 'i he 1969 ne nau fuofua tua ai ki Nu'u Sila. Neongo ne fo'i 'a e tau ko 'eni 20 - 21 'i he'enau fetaulaki mo e Hamilton Bays ka ne fakahikihiki'i 'aupito e pōto'i va'inga 'a e timi Tonga' 'i ha tau ne 'aho kakapu pea momoko. Ka ne nau taufale'i e timi 'a e kau Mauli' he fo'i tau 'e ua. he tua ko 'eni'. Na'a' ne pule ako foki 'i he Kolisi 'Apifo'ou mo Talekita Ako he ngaahi ako 'a e Katolika'. Ne mahino 'aupito e mahiki 'a e 'akapulu 'i he kolisi 'Apifo'ou 'o nau sila hokohoko ai he ta'u 'e tolu he 1960 tupu pea ko e faiako ko Pātele Tavite.

Former coach of the Tongan rugby team, Fr David Mullins, has died.

A funeral service will be held for him in Auckland next Monday.

The Marist priest was coach of the Tongan team, which became the Ikale Tahi,  during its tour of New Zealand in 1969.

His involvement with the team began when he was a teacher at Apifo’ou College, the largest Catholic school in Tonga.

He later became the school’s principal.

Fr David Mullins (2nd to the left 2nd row) with his ‘Apifo’ou College team which won the intercollege rugby tournament in 1961

His Apifo’ou 1st XV senior team won the intercollege rugby tournament in three consecutive years including 1961.

Tonga’s national team made its New Zealand debut in the 1969 tour against Hamilton Bays and lost by only one point in a game played in fog.

Despite the 22-21 loss, the team was praised for its skills on the field and its courtesy off the field.

The team went on to defeat New Zealand Maoris in two tests.

Fr Mullins also contributed to the formation and establishment of the Tonga Rugby Board.

He spent 35 years in Tonga in all.

He was a director of Catholic education and Vicar General of the diocese for a time.

He was also deputy editor of Taumu’a Lelei, the Catholic church’s newspaper in Tonga.

Later he spent seven years working as chaplain to migrant Tongans in the United States and New Zealand.

He moved to the Our Lady of Lourdes parish in Glen Eden in late 1998, becoming its second longest serving parish priest.

Fr Mullins’ links with sport in Tonga were not forgotten after he left the kingdom. In 2014 he was guest of honour at a reception hosted by the 2019 Pacific Games Organising Committee.

Fr Mullins was born in Christchurch on September 29, 1930 and ordained at St Mary’s Church, Christchurch, on July 15, 1956.

His father, Jack, was a World War One veteran who captained Canterbury in rugby and was a long serving sports editor at the Christchurch Press.

Fr Mullins died at the Little Sisters of the Poor in Ponsonby, Auckland, on Monday.

A vigil service will be held at the Little Sisters of the Poor, 9 Tweed Street, Ponsonby, Auckland this Sunday, December 30, at 4pm.

A requiem mass will be celebrated at St Patrick’s Church, 19 Sunset View Road, Panmure, Auckland next Monday, December 31, at 11am.

The main points

  • Former coach of the Tongan rugby team, Fr David Mullins, has died.
  • The Marist priest was coach of the Tongan team, which became the Ikali Tahi,  during its first tour of New Zealand in 1969.
  • Fr Mullins also contributed to the formation and establishment of the Tonga Rugby Board.

For more information

Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Parish of Glen Eden

Tongan rugby team in Nelson

Rev. Father David (Society of Mary) Mullins

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