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When hearing the commentators saying the names of Josh Papalii and Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, the question on everyone’s lips was clear.

Why did they change their names?

For Papalii and Nicoll-Klokstad the reason for the change is very different but equally important.

“A lot of people have asked me why I’ve changed my last name,” Papalii said. “But it’s not changed, just said properly.

“I’ve always wanted it, but when I first came into the NRL 11 years ago, it was always hard to say.”

The four-time Meninga Medal winner said his family were pleased in hearing their name pronounced correctly and being broadcasted across the globe.

“Definitely my old man, he’s pretty happy with the commentators giving it a go,” Papalii said.

Name Pronunciation
Josh Papalii Josh Papa-li-i
Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad Charnce Nic-oll Klook-star (rhymes with book-star)
Corey Harawira-Naera Corey Hada-Wida-Nighda

For Nicoll-Klokstad, it is part of a longer journey of him discovering his identity and heritage.

It began with an innocuous Instagram post and by the end of it, the fullback realised there was so much more to his heritage that he wanted to learn about.

“Last year I went to send myself a message on Jordan [Rapana’s] phone,” Nicoll-Klokstad said. “I saw that my name wasn’t spelt right at all so I just chucked it up on Instagram and had a good laugh.

“My cousin then said, ‘You’ve actually been saying your name wrong too.’”

Upon hearing that news, Nicoll-Klokstad mentioned it to his mum and found out that she already knew about the correct pronunciation but had not passed it on to him or his siblings.

Despite it being new knowledge to Charnze, he has embraced the new pronunciation for multiple reasons.

A lot of our identity starts with our names and pronouncing it, is a part of that

Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad

“I’ve said it incorrectly for 25 years and so for me to have to start pronouncing it right, it will be a good change.”

Similarly to Papalii, Raiders second-rower Corey Harawira-Naera is looking forward to his parents hearing their last names pronounced during the games when he returns to the field.

“It’s a bit of a tongue twister, there are a lot of r’s that make it hard but it’s more the trying part I have a lot of respect for,” Harawira-Naera said. “When I first came over to Australia, it was just Harawira, and then I included mum’s side (Naera) so that made it even harder.

“I probably haven’t helped anyone in that respect, but I had to carry both mum’s and dad’s sides with me. I think mum and dad will be pretty happy with both names said properly."

A couple of years ago, Jordan Rapana had a similar experience to both Papalii and Harawira-Naera and approached Fox Sports commentator Andrew Voss to request for his pronunciation to change too.

“It was most important for my mum,” Rapana said. “She was the one who used to kick stones about it and she kept asking about it.

“She got frustrated every time I had the ball and the commentator said my name incorrectly. It used to tick her off a little bit.”

Since changing the pronunciation, Rapana has noticed the impact it had on his family and hopes it does the same for Papalii, Nicoll-Klokstad and Harawira-Naera.

“I didn’t really care too much but for my family being the proud Maori’s that they are, they obviously wanted that pronunciation done correctly,” Rapana said. “I know it meant a lot to them.

For Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, he’s now taking the opportunity to explore his heritage and identity.

“Unfortunately, I didn’t get the chance to learn a lot about who I am as a Cook Island and Maori man – and now a Norwegian man as well,” Nicoll-Klokstad said. “It’s important for me to learn those things to pass on to my kids so when they get to my age, they know a lot more than I do.”

The next step for the Raiders fullback is to visit Norway for the first time with his kids once it’s possible to do so. He also hasn’t ruled out representing the country of his maternal great-grandparents at some stage on the field either.

“I think it would be a good experience,” Nicoll-Klokstad said. “I’ve learned a lot about my Cook Island and Maori heritage [from representative football] and I would love to do the same with Norway one day.”

Acknowledgement of Country

Canberra Raiders respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.