North Queensland Toyota Cowboys co-captain Jason Taumalolo has been honoured by his alma mater, Kedgley Intermediate School, with a mural in his hometown of Auckland.
Standing alongside the late New Zealand Warriors forward Sonny Fai, Taumalolo is one of eight ‘Backyard Heroes’ the school is featuring on murals around its grounds in the hope of inspiring the next generation.
“The idea of the ‘Backyard Heroes’ series came about when we looked at our school environment and saw that there were famous quotes from influential people from all around the world but none from New Zealand,” Kedgley Intermediate Principal Pelu Leaupepetele said.
“The mural series celebrates iconic Kedglians, with the aim of inspiring our community to believe in themselves and their dreams.
“Each of our heroes embody our school values – leadership, services, respect, resilience and kindness – and continue to represent Kedgley Intermediate.
“By seeing these murals every day, our current students will have a constant reminder of people who have come from the same streets as them and have, through hard work and determination, become game changers and world leaders.”
While Mr Leaupepetele was not at the school when Taumalolo attended, he said that staff speak fondly of the former pupil.
“Jason captained both the boys rugby league and rugby union teams, winning the ‘Auckland Champions of Champions’ title. To win this in the same year is almost unheard of,” Mr Leaupepetele said.
“Talking to staff who taught Jason, he was a diligent student who was never shy of putting his hand up to lead in any extracurricular activities.”
Local artist Matt Griffin, who has been commissioned to do all eight murals around the school, hopes the pieces will inspire the young students in the future.
“It sets a standard of pride in the school and with the students and teachers, but it also sets a goal that any of those students could be on that wall too in the future if they work hard enough.”