16 July 2022

New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) held its annual general meeting on Saturday, where women’s rugby league great Honey Hireme-Smiler MNZM was welcomed as an Appointed Director to the NZRL Board.

Hireme-Smiler, a dual international, has been an exceptional flag bearer for New Zealand women’s rugby league.

The former Kiwi Fern’s captain boasts an impressive 18-year professional playing career which includes 32 Tests for the Kiwi Ferns, two World Cup victories, and a place in the NRL women’s team of the decade (2010s).

The Kiwi Fern legend is well steeped in the community game, playing for Hamilton City Tigers and representing Wai-Coa-Bay at the 2019 NZRL National Women’s Tournament. She then led the Kiwi Ferns to World Cup Nines glory before retiring at the end of the 2019 season.

The three-time Kiwi Fern Player of the Year was awarded the inaugural Veronica White Medal for her outstanding contribution to the community through rugby league and was later appointed a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to the code.

The Putaruru-born star has previous governance experience as an emerging Director for Waikato Rugby and continues to give back via coaching, mentoring, and her numerous ambassador roles, including as a senior disability sport advisor with the Halberg Foundation.

She was recently selected as one of 16 women’s coaches around the country enrolled in the High-Performance Sport New Zealand’s (HPSNZ) Te Hāpaitanga programme and, in her spare time, works as a dual-code presenter and commentator for Sky Sport.

“Honey is an exceptional addition to the NZRL Board,” says NZRL Chairman Hugh Martyn.

“She is a voice for many who play our game, and she is well respected in the New Zealand sporting community. Her passion for the women’s and disability space and her experience at a high-performance and grassroots level will see her bring valuable insight and direction to the organisation.”

Hireme-Smiler’s election also maintains NZRL’s 40% self-identifying female board composition.

Incumbent Director Grant Stapleton has been reappointed for a further four-year term.

Martyn said, “Grant has been on the NZRL board since 2019 and has been a key member of this team. We are extremely privileged to have him for another four years.”


THE NZRL BOARD IS Hugh Martyn (Chair), Howie Tamati (President), Natasha Tere (Deputy Chair), Justin Leydesdorff, Tawera Nikau, Jeni Pearce, Grant Stapleton and Honey Hireme-Smiler.