By Indira Stewart for rnz.co.nz
Ticket sales for this weekend's long awaited clash between Tonga and New Zealand are down compared to previous matches the Tongan NRL team has played in the country.
Many members of the Tongan community also say the hype is not as intense this year compared to previous years and there are even fewer decorated houses.
But in South Auckland, for the third year in a row, a pipe manufacturing company is shouting a couple of hundred workers to back Mate Ma'a Tonga this weekend.
Source: RNZ / YouTube
At Hynds Pipe system in East Tamaki, workers are gearing up for the game and they're known to take up about 6 rows in the South Stand at Mount Smart Stadium in Auckland.
"Over here at Hynds we are like one family, one team, we work together," explained Pale, one of its workers.
"Any team playing here like Samoa, Fiji or Tonga, we all go to support it. We all here like brothers. No girls here at the yard, just all brothers. And we very proud of what Hynds is doing."
"Yeah we're so thankful for Hynds," agreed another worker.
"You know it's hard for a company to spend a lot of money on buying a ticket to all the island boys. But we're so thankful, so proud for this company they buying tickets for everyone. Doesn't matter if you're Tongan or not. They still buying ticket for everyone."
The workers rehearse songs and chants in the lead up to the game and Pale says even the non-Tongan workers join in.
"They have to sing anyway!", laughed Pale.
"When we sing the Tongan music or the hymn, they have to sing. We show them how to sing the Tongan song."
What has now become a company tradition to support the Tongan NRL team began several years ago when a few Hynds workers put through a suggestion in the company's site suggestion box, asking if the company would shout the workers to support Tonga in the 2017 World Cup semi final.
Once management had discussed it, Vaets Vaetoru said they decided it was a no-brainer.
"It boosts staff morale and it aligns with the values that we have for the company," said Vaets.
Everybody including the Niueans, the Cook Islanders, the Samoans, the Indians, the Filipinos - it brings everyone to come together," he said.
"I got to see a lot of the workers with the families and it really touched my heart seeing everybody there, very emotional time for everybody. Just the comraderie of everybody there. You can't explain it."
Hynds Pipe workers supporting Tonga's League team at Mt Smart Stadium 2018Hynds Pipe workers supporting Tonga's League team at Mt Smart Stadium 2018 Photo: supplied
And when asked who Hynds, a New Zealand based family company, would be backing this week - there was no doubt.
"Definitely MMT." said Vaets.
The workers agreed - "We expect to see the red sea again. We think Tonga will win 20-10!"