How Cody Walker’s son stole the show in All Stars camp

Cody Walker ranks representing his Indigenous people, and leading their All Stars side, as one of the proudest moments of his career.

Watching his 11-year-old son Kian do the same though might just trump it.

With the 1973 Aboriginal All Stars celebrating the 50th anniversary of their historic tour of New Zealand, the theme of generational change has been an enduring one this week.

“It’s been extra special this year, I get to spend it with my young boy,” said Walker, who is also joined in camp by nephew Daine Laurie and another relative, 1973 tourist Ron Mason.

“My eldest lad has come over and experienced the culture and everything of the week.

“The other night we were doing our war dance practice and at the start he was quite shy to get in and we’ve got a rule here – there’s no shame in our culture. I was probing him to get up and have a crack.

Family affair: Ron Mason, Kian and Cody Walker and cousin Brock Tutt in Indigenous All Stars camp.Credit:NRL Imagery

“By the end of it he’s in the middle of the circle doing a shake-a-leg and they’re proud moments in my eyes. That’ll stand out to me in 50 years time.

“That I taught my son the cultural aspect of our people, that celebration dance that we do. That’s the reason why we’re here.”

Walker first spoke to the Herald in 2020 about his own feelings of shame when it came to not knowing Indigenous cultural dances.

After his own priceless introduction to Maori culture and being embraced by Latrell Mitchell, Jack Wighton, Nicho Hynes and the game’s biggest Indigenous stars, Kian’s experience has been similar to that of his father’s.

“I was really shy around people,” Kian told Nine News of his first few days in camp.

“I didn’t really talk or shake hands. I was just hanging around Dad all the time… But I decided to represent my culture and do the shake-a-leg with the boys.

“It was really special, I was ashamed when they were clapping me on but I just wanted to do it for the boys. They all jumped on me after!”

“He’s impressed me this week,” Walker added of his son.

“Just the way he’s been really respectful to other cultures, shaking everyone’s hand and getting around everyone.

Cody and Kian Walker playing one-on-one in Rotorua this week.Credit:NRL Imagery

“He actually started doing Aboriginal at his school and there was one part of the dance where he had to do shake-a-leg, and he made sure he was at the front of the group to do it.

“I learned something straight away, that there’s no shame in our culture. We made a point at the start of this week, our people have felt that shame over the years. It’s now about us being proud of who we are and where we come from.”

Surviving members of the 1973 Aboriginal All Stars presented their current-day counterparts with their jerseys on Friday night, though Penrith’s Tyrone Peachey will not play on Saturday due to a hamstring issue.

With a state of emergency still declared in Auckland, the NRL, Harvey Norman and Nine Network will join together with fundraising for the city’s flood relief efforts.

The three organisations will each donate $1 for to Auckland Council’s Emergency Relief Fund for every entry ticket scanned to the All Stars match in Rotorua.

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