Top honour earned
Maree Hawkins has been honoured for her unswerving loyalty to the growth of the Pacific Sharks Rugby League Club.
The Tokoroa rugby league fanatic took home Female Volunteer of the Year at the New Zealand Rugby League national awards held last Wednesday in Auckland.
Hawkins was described as ‘‘an amazing woman’’ for holding several roles in the club and supporting others when needed.
A few of her titles include treasurer, junior co-ordinator, under 18s manager, community liaison officer, registrations and league net administrator and match manager.
But for Hawkins the titles are of little significance.
‘‘ It’s about the love of the game, the people and the kids – they are our future.’’
Award nominees had to ‘‘have shown a commitment to the club, the game and the values of the NZRL’’.
Hawkins embodied all three, working 30-40 hours a week for the club during season to encourage her players to use the sport as a tool for life.
The proud Cook Island woman said a rush of nerves washed over her as she walked on to the stage with a flower in her hair.
‘‘I just had to speak from the heart . . . when I finished I said if they didn’t know where Tokoroa was, they do now.
‘‘Speakers such as Stephen Kearney and Simon Mannering both referred to parts of my speech when they spoke.
‘‘ It was humbling to be recognised for the work we do as volunteers in a sport dominated by males.’’
Hawkins said she has not been alone on her journey.
‘‘I am grateful for all the hard work and support from our volunteers and members of our club and community . . . The first five years that I was involved there was a small group of us but since then the group of volunteers has grown.’’
Her number one supporter is her husband, Duane, she said.
‘‘I couldn’t do any of this without my husband and my family.’’
Hawkins was one of three from Tokoroa selected as finalists for the national awards, including Dylan Clark for Pirtek Domestic 16s Player of the Year and Pacific Sharks for Grassroots Club of the Year.
HUMBLE WINNER: Maree Hawkins wins Female Volunteer of the Year at the New Zealand Rugby League national awards.