Farah Palmer honoured at Ngāti Maniapoto Kawenata Awards

By Marena Mane

The shining superstars of Ngāti Maniapoto have been honoured at the annual Kawenata awards, conducted online at Te Nehenehenui.

The inaugural Kawenata awards were first presented in 2019 to commemorate the iwi's 1904 covenant.

Farah Palmer, a rugby legend, received this year's 'Te Rangituataka' Supreme Award, which recognises her leadership, nobility, and wisdom.

Palmer says she is humbled and surprised.

“I feel very lucky and very honoured.” 

Palmer says that being recognised by her own people is significant and she is grateful the awards were held online because she "would have been a crying mess" if they had been live.

'Means so much more'

“I'm not saying that the other awards I’ve received are not that great but just getting it from your own people just means so much more.”

Palmer says her involvement in the sports sector has opened doors for her, and she thanks people who have contributed to the iwi in different ways and through various pathways.

“So for me, it's through sport, it's through tertiary education, but for others, it's in another way.”

Palmer says witnessing the recent Black Ferns rugby tour in the UK was difficult for her because of the four big losses. She thinks the Ferns and New Zealand rugby need to take a hard look at themselves.

“We've got a world cup coming up in 2022 and we've got to do some really hard looking at what we can do better in systems, fitness, tactics. And are we providing all the resources we possibly can?”

Super Rugby Aupiki

Super Rugby Aupiki is the professional women's rugby union national club competition whose first season will begin in March 2022. Between the Farah Palmer Cup and the Black Ferns, it serves as a stepping stone. The word, Aupiki' means "the ascent to the highest realm."

Palmer says the Farah Palmer Cup will serve as a starting point for the players from their losses in France and prepare for the Super Rugby Aupiki, which will expose them to a high-intensity game, similar to the pressure they will face at the World Cup.

“We've got to do more than that though … we've got to do other things as well to keep that edge or to get that edge back we used to have.”

Palmer says there will be more test matches in Aotearoa before the World Cup with Australia, Canada, and the United States.

“We just need to have more regular games and Aupiki definitely is a step or a pathway to there but we just need to keep that momentum going.”