Māori league stars reign supreme

By Regan Paranihi

Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Honey Hireme have taken the top awards at the annual New Zealand Rugby League Annual Awards.

Waerea-Hargreaves is this year's Kiwis' player of the year, while Hireme was named Kiwi Ferns player of the year. 

Waerea-Hargreaves has had an impressive season with his Sydney Roosters side in which they managed to secure the 2018 NRL premiership and Michael Maguire says he played a crucial part in the Kiwis historic 26-24 win over Australia.

"As a senior player within the Kiwis camp, Jared put a lot of time into discussing the growth of the Kiwi team. He has immense passion towards where he wants to see the black and white jersey and this is a real quality of his."

Maguire says he was in a great position to play his best footy for the Kiwis as well as mentor up and coming players.

“His experience has been invaluable in mentoring younger players to step up into international rugby league."

This is the second time Hireme has taken the Kiwi Ferns Player of the Year award. She says the game continues to grow as the players continue to play at top level.

"The more we can play at the top level, the better our game gets. I'm grateful for receiving this award but would also like to recognise the efforts of the other finalists (Kimiora Nati and Aieshaleigh Smalley) and our Kiwi Ferns teammates, my family for their undying support, management and coaching staff."

Hireme has crossed the ditch to play for the St George Illawarra Dragon in the inaugural NRL Women’s Premiership in which she says has been a beneficial move for her game.

"The addition of this year's NRL competition was great for the women's game. The fact that we could all come together in Kiwi Ferns camp following four weeks of competing in the elite space, was hugely beneficial when it came to pulling on the black and white jersey against the Jillaroos,"

This year's award winners showcase players and match officials performing at the pinnacle of rugby league, as well as community representatives and volunteers who prove to be the backbone of grassroots rugby league in New Zealand.

See below for the full list of winners;

Pirtek Female Volunteer - Karen Gibbons Karen Gibbons (Akarana, Auckland)

Pirtek Male Volunteer - Lawrence Erihe (Mid Central, Manawatu)

Grassroots Club of the Year - South Pacific Raiders (Southern, Otago)

Domestic Coach of the Year - Keith Hanley (Akarana, Auckland)

Match Official of the Year - Paki Parkinson (Upper Central, Bay of Plenty)

NZ 16s Player of the Year - Sione Moala (Counties Manukau, Auckland)