NZ Touch representative Atawhai Tupaea has been one of the Kiwi Ferns’ mainstays – and most
potent try-scorers – since making her debut against the Jillaroos in 2014. The 25-year-old scored a
crucial try with 10 minutes to go as New Zealand pulled off a thrilling 12-8 win in that Test. She was
subsequently named the NZRL Women’s Player of the Year.
A member of the Kiwi Ferns squad at all three NRL Auckland Nines tournaments from 2015-17, the
powerful outside-back featured in the Anzac Test in each of those seasons. She bagged a double in
the 26-16 victory in 2016 and crossed for New Zealand’s sole try in the 16-4 loss a year later.
Tupaea played in all five matches of the Kiwi Ferns’ 2017 Rugby League World Cup campaign, scoring
tries in pool wins over Canada and Papua New Guinea.
She had a break from the game to have her second child but made a remarkable comeback in 2019.
Exclusively a winger at Test level, Tupaea starred at fullback in Papakura Sisters’ ARL grand final win,
won an NZRL National Competition with Counties-Manukau and lined up at centre in all three
matches of the Warriors’ sophomore NRLW season.
Tupaea dotted down for a match-sealing try in a momentous win over the Roosters, while she
averaged 18.7 tackles and 68.3 metres across the Warriors’ three outings.
The 30-year-old was part of New Zealand’s World Cup Nines-winning squad and returned to the Kiwi
Ferns’ Test line-up on the flank for their loss to the Jillaroos in Wollongong