Rugby League Northland Board

Walter Wells, Chairperson

Walter Wells, Chairperson

Walter Wells

Walter brings 25 years’ experience working in the public sector with the last 10 years’ in senior leadership and management positions. He brings strategic leadership, critical thinking and extensive working relationships across a diverse network of interest groups. Walter is considered a trusted and influential advisor to a range of stakeholder interests including, cross agency fora, community organisations and sector interest groups. Walter is an experienced director and committee member providing policy advice and innovative strategic direction to a number of boards, trusts and incorporated entities. He is currently working in a senior public sector leadership role based in Wellington and has been in this role since 2014. Prior to taking up the role Walter was Regional Director at the Taitokerau, Te Puni Kōkiri office. Walter has a degree in Applied Information Systems and began a post graduate diploma in Business Management majoring in Māori Development at Auckland University. Walter resides in Whangarei and has a long standing interest in Rugby League having grown up around the game starting as a 4year old with Portland ‘Parrots’ as they were known back then, and into other junior clubs and grades including regional and district representative level. His senior rugby league kicked off with Portland ‘Panthers’ as they are known now before ending a number of years later at Takahiwai Warriors. Walter was elected to the Board in 2014 seeing the opportunity to support rugby league in the region through his professional work experience and widespread network.

James Nair, Deputy Chairperson

James Nair, Deputy Chairperson

James Nair

James brings financial accountability and governance skills to the Board. He is currently a self-employed Chartered Accountant. James has an interest in youth development and is currently a Trustee with the He Puna Marama Trust who are involved with the Maori Leadership academy that feeds into local Whangarei Secondary Schools. James previously worked in Rugby League as part of the management committee in the earlier Bartercard Cup days with Northland.

Robert (Bob) Willougby

Robert (Bob) Willougby

Robert Willoughby

Robert has a proven operational background in FMCG, both nationally and internationally, across all business disciplines. As a senior executive for Coca-Cola, he held responsibility in trade marketing across all channels and was appointed to lead and build the business infrastructure for Coca-Cola in Belarus.  Thereafter, appointed to lead the re-engineering of market access and service effectiveness for Coca-Cola in Czech Republic and the Eastern European emerging markets. A respected thinker who understands design and process to maximise the internal and external value chain when working with customers to ultimately secure market share. As an experienced coach and trainer who understands business fundamentals, Robert has worked sucessfully with people from different cultures and levels of society. As a customer service practitioner he has a wide range of skills in problem solving, service delivery and business interpretation allowing him to see opportunity and assess risk to get the best outcomes. Robert’s current public appointments include, Member of the Northland Conservation Board and the Tai Tokeraru Public Health Organisation, Trustee of the Ki A Ora Ngati Wai Health Trust and a Certified Practiioner as a Hearing Commissioner on the RMA Act.

Greg Steed

Greg Steed

Greg Steed

Kaitaia born Greg Steed is an experienced non-executive Director and Manager, with a strong background in strategy, finance and supply chain across a number of industry sectors. He is a director at Top Energy Ltd and Chairman of their Audit and Risk Committee. Previous roles include 10 years at the NZ Shippers Council serving as deputy chairman for 2 years and Chairman for 5 years, senior supply chain positions in Carter Holt Harvey Ltd and accounting roles in CHH and other organisations in N.Z and overseas. Greg is a Chartered Accountant and holds a Bachelor of Commerce in Accounting from the University of Auckland. He enjoys golf, cycling, and tennis and an avid follower of rugby league and soccer including coaching.

Juanita Hool

Juanita Hool

Juanita Hool

Juanita has been involved in Rugby League administration in Northland for over 25 years with a variety of roles, including, Team Manager, Delegate, and Secretary and Chairperson at both Club and District Level. Northland born and bred she has an indepth knowledge of the environs of “grass roots” football for the area. A life member of the Takahiwai Warriors, Juanita has proven that she is in for the long haul and sees junior development, especially at Club level, as the cornerstone for the sustainable future of Rugby League – enabling Clubs to be the “best that they can be” and therein providing pathways for all to be participants in the Sport. Her philosophy is that there is absolutely a role for everyone in this game! In her professional career she is employed in the Public Service (within the Justice Sector) and has demonstrated a high level of commitment with the same organisation for almost 30 years. Juanita deals with a wide range of issues in her position and is well versed in mediation and dispute resolution. Her strengths are demonstrated in her strategic approach at both District and National level and in the practical skills required with dealing with the people of our community. She is a trustee of the Takahiwai Marae and has previously been a member of the Bream Bay College Board of Trustees. Juanita is the youngest of seven siblings and enjoys spending time with, and cooking for her whanau, overseas travel and relaxing at the beach. She attributes her interest in Rugby League began with her parents; who were both involved throughout their lifetimes in the Sport and has continued through her husband and sons who have each played at Club and Representative level.


The RLN Zone Board are responsible for the Governance of and adding value to the game.

The RLN Board are an extension of NZRL and also is responsible for the paid employees within the Zone (GM, Development Officers, Admin), and as such, they have to ensure that certain criteria and rules are adhered to such as standard rules for competition, the mouth guard policy is enforced, players of U17 of age do not play senior football, Mini and Mod football is played to the same rules across the country.

Where we will add value to the game is via:

  • Development
  • Increased pathways for players coaches and administrators
  • Increased communication and financial security


1. Improved systems for delivery of Rugby League  throughout Northland
Sourcing opportunities to employ more development staff. The more people we have on the ground the more opportunities we have to offer Rugby League to the public. Our goal is to provide more opportunities with the schools. We will provide FUNdamental skills coaching and festivals for the kids, while encouraging them to join their local club. The outcome of this will be that in the future every club will have teams in every grade.

2. Coach and referee education
As we develop more players we need to be able to provide a fun and positive environment for them to participate. This is achieved by the provision of quality coaching pathways as well as introducing and training more referees.

3. Facilities Development
Again the more players and competitions we have the more demand there will be on council facilities. We will be working with the councils to ensure that there is a long term strategy for the provision of grounds and facilities.

Increased pathways for players, coaches and administrators

Rugby League can provide a future for some. We are fortunate to have three teams (15’s 17’s and Premiers) representing Northland in the National Provincial Championship for the Northern Swords. The Swords are only one level away from competing for NZ.

We will be developing improved structures to ensure that all three teams have a better opportunity to compete on the national level therefore enabling individual players such as Kandice Christianson (NZRL 16’s Representative) to hopefully make a career from Rugby League.

We aim to provide players & coaches with increased training and personal development opportunities. Work is has already began with planning for the 2012 campaign with increased training opportunities.

Increased communication and financial security

If we improve our development pathways and improve our success on the field this will help us achieve this role. With every development opportunity we have it is an opportunity to communicate with the people and tell them about our great game.

We will continue to develop our communications; website, enewsletter, poster campaigns as well as radio – who knows we may even see Rugby League Northland on TV in time to come!!

Financial security is the hard nut to crack, but the equation is: the more people that play our game and are involved in our game the more money that should be available via Trust Funding and via sponsorship for Rugby League across the community. This success will filter down for the benefit of the zone, the district and the clubs.

Ongoing project

As the saying goes: “Rome wasn’t built in a day”, a lot of hard work has already been started but if we all work together then we will achieve some great results. We have the best sporting product, Rugby League!!