Japanese rugby star ‘Amanaki Mafi marries fiancée in Auckland’s Botanic Gardens

The standout Tongan player in the Japanese team which humiliated South Africa in the 2015 Rugby World Cup married his Japanese fiancee in Auckland’s Botanic Gardens this morning.

‘Amanaki Mafi, 25, married Azusa Arita, 27, after flying in from Japan.

Arita’s parents, Tetsuya and Kanako Arita, accompanied them and ‘Amanaki’s parents, Uilini and Tevita Puli Mafi, travelled from Tonga for the ceremony.

Mafi told Kaniva News he was happy to be in New Zealand with his wife.

Mafi became a rugby star in last year’s World Cup Tournament after he fended off South Africa’s five eighth, giving him more space to run further down the corner before passing the ball to Harumichi Tatekawa, who scored.

The last-minute try sealed one of the all-time great sporting upsets against overwhelming favourites South Africa.

The Brave Blossoms beat South Africa 34-32.

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The wedding began with a Mass led by Fr Sateki Raass. Photo/Malia Lesina Latu (Kaniva Pacific)

Mafi was a replacement at the match and was wearing the number 21 jersey.

“We will leave from here to England to join Bath’s Rugby Club for a five-month contract before we come back to Japan,” Mafi told Kaniva News.

He said the whole purpose of holding the wedding in Auckland was to celebrate with his family. He said he was happy to be re-united with his siblings,  cousins and parents in Auckland

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Amanaki and Azusa Mafi with their parents, Tetsuya and Kanako Arita (left), Tevita and Uilini Mafi (right). Photo/Malia Lesina Latu (Kaniva Pacific)

Mafi has 16 brothers and sisters. His father had six children with a previous wife and then married ‘Amanaki’s mother, with whom he had 10 children. ‘Amanaki is the second youngest.

His wife Asuza was elated and appeared to have greatly enjoy mingling with ‘Amanaki’s family.

“Thanks for having me,” Asuza said.

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“I am Japanese, but they are loving me so much,” she said of ‘Amanaki’s family.

“I really love Tongan cultures and I love Naki’s family…I really love them. I am really happy.”

She said she could cook Tongan food and loved it.

“I cook ota ika and lu sipi,” she said, laughing.

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Viola Sanalio (2nd left), her family and the marriage couple. Photo/Malia Lesina Latu (Kaniva Pacific)

She said she met ‘Amanaki because her friend was dating a Tongan boy, ‘Amanaki Loto’ahea.

The wedding was a family private function which began with a Mass led by Fr Sateki Raass at the Auckland Botanic Gardens in South Auckland this morning.

It was followed by a formal reception at the Ellerslie Convention Centre in Auckland.

Mafi’s aunt Viola Sanalio said she was happy to see their family grow with their connection to Asuza and her Japanese family.

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Amanaki and Azusa tied the knot infront of Fr Sateki Raass in South Auckland. Photo/Malia Lesina (Kaniva Pacific).

CORRECTION: This story has been updated to correct an errror saying ʻAmanaki’s mother had 10 children from a previous marriage and then married ʻAmanaki’s father and they had 6 children. It was ʻAmanaki’s father who previously had 6 children not his mother. We apologise for the error.

The main points

  • The standout Tongan player in the Japanese team which humiliated South Africa in the 2015 Rugby World Cup married his Japanese fiancee in Auckland’s Botanic Gardens this morning.
  • ‘Amanaki Mafi married Azusa Arita after flying in from Japan.
  • Arita’s parents, Tetsuya and Kanako Arita, accompanied them and ‘Amanaki’s parents, Uilini and Tevita Puli Mafi, travelled from Tonga for the ceremony.
  • Mafi become a rugby star in last year’s World Cup Tournament after he fended off South Africa’s five eighth, giving him more space to run further down the corner before passing the ball to Harumichi Tatekawa, who scored.

For more information

Japan’s marvellous RWC win over South Africa was the greatest moment in Rugby World Cup history (Daily Mail)

Bath Rugby sign Japan star Amanaki Mafi

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