With victor yates selected for the 1961 All Blacks, the sporting Yates family hits the headlines once again. Victor himself has represented North Auckland in all the grades he had played, from primary schools reps. onwards.
But he is not the first of his family to gain representative honours. His father, Moses Yates, who played for Mangonui County until 1942, by which time he was well into his forties, has been a New Zealand Maori representative at Rugby League. In 1922, Moses Yates' name was suggested for the N.Z. Maori Rugby League Trials in Auckland, but Moses didn't have the price of a trip to Auckland on what might be a wild goose chase. Besides, Moses had never played a game of league in his life! But that didn't deter Bill Evans, Houhora's controversial publican-postmaster. Bill lent Moses £10 to get to Auckland, and Moses did the rest, scoring a try and putting a penalty over from half-way in his very first game, against Auckland. He was selected for a tour of Australia. On his return, despite attractive offers to remain in Auckland, Moses Yates returned to the bushwhacking style of Rugby as it was played then in the Far North. It was nothing to ride from Houhora to Herekino on horseback for a game, and back again in time for the Saturday night dance and Sunday church.
Moses Yates has served Rugby in this county in many capacities, as co-founder of the old Pukepoto club, present coach of the Rarawa club, past County and Tai-Tokerau selector, and, of course, as a rep. player for over twenty years.
All this in one man is unusual—but add to this, the record of his family: Victor Yates, at the age of 22, has his future ahead of him, yet from his first New Zealand trials he has been selected to play for the All Black team against France.
Both of his brothers have represented New Zealand, in Rugby League. John Yates, who played his first senior game for Rarawa, was chosen for North Auckland in 1952, and in 1953 switched to League.
Two members of the Yates family figure in this photograph of six Kaitaia College old boys, all members of the New Zealand Maori team which played Australia at Napier. From left, back row: Pat Walsh, Muru Walters, Teddy Thompson; front row: Bill Wordley, Victor Yates, Rod Yates.
From 1954–57 John Yates represented New Zealand in League, playing in the World Series and touring Europe and America.
Simon Yates played for Rarawa and Mangonui County, then he too followed in his brother's footsteps, playing Rugby League in Auckland, and, in 1956, touring Australia in the New Zealand Maori Rugby League team. He has since captained the Maori R.L. team.
The women of the Yates family have not lagged far behind the men. Mrs Moses Yates (nee Lillian Busby) has played for Mangonui at basketball for more years than she cares to remember. At one stage, both she and three of her daughters were in the team together. Doris Yates (who died tragically young) represented Mangonui in both basketball and tennis. Waitangi Yates (now Mrs W. Karaka) has represented Mangonui, Auckland and the Bay of Plenty, and Ada (now Mrs Pylka) and Wilma have both played for Mangonui County.
In case anyone gets the impression that this Yates family is all brawn and no brains, we might mention that Waitangi Yates was also Dux of Kaitaia College, and that Wilma Yates was an exchange scholar at French New Caledonia, and last year won a Post-Primary Teacher's Bursary to Auckland University.
But one thing is certain—every Saturday the Yates house at Pukepoto stood empty on the hill, while Father, Mother, and all seven children gave their wholehearted energies up to sport.