Top hon­our earned

South Waikato News - - NEWS / HE PU¯RONGORONGO - By PET­RICE TAR­RANT

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.

Photo: PET­RICE TAR­RANT

HUM­BLE WIN­NER: Ma­ree Hawkins wins Fe­male Vol­un­teer of the Year at the New Zealand Rugby League na­tional awards.

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