Trish Hina has been described as one of New Zealand’s greatest sportswomen, representing her country in rugby league, rugby union, touch football and softball. But the Wellington five-eighth undoubtedly made her biggest impact in the 13-a-side game.


Arguably women’s rugby league’s first genuine superstar, Hina’s Kiwi Ferns tenure spanned 13 years and her linchpin role in three World Cup triumphs included two player of the tournament nods. The record-breaking try-scorer and goalkicker boasted a game-breaking kitbag of skill, vision and pace unmatched among her contemporaries.


“Trish was an amazing athlete – she could anything and everything, a dynamic player,” former Kiwi Ferns captain long-time teammate Nadene Conlon reflects.


“Every time she had the ball, you noticed. A brilliant runner, she could step, fend, kick, brutalise girls defensively – she could do it all. Like an Olsen Filipaina of the women’s game.


“She was the driving force in any team she was in, always stood out above everybody. The tries she scored and the skill factor – at the time it was a step above everybody. And a really good person and has given back from her experience in all sports to the community.”


Hina’s softball commitments prevented her from embarking on the Kiwi Ferns’ pioneering tour across the Tasman in 1995, but she made an immediate splash on the international scene two years later with two tries on Test debut in the series opener against Australia and a hat-trick in the second encounter. A pair of doubles in the 1998 cleansweep of Great Britain and three tries in the series win over Australia in 1999 followed.


The spearhead of Te Aroha’s 11 straight Wellington club titles, Hina inspired Wellington to national tournament success in 1997 and ’99. Meanwhile, a two-try performance against hosts England in the final secured player of the tournament honours as New Zealand took out the inaugural World Cup in 2000.


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Hina was a dominant force as the Kiwi Ferns retained their world champions mantle at the 2003 tournament at home, scoring a competition-leading 82 points (including an incredible 40 from five tries and 10 goals in their win over Samoa) and earning a place in the team of the tournament.


All-time rugby league great status already assured, Hina was in irresistible form again at the 2008 World Cup and was named player of the tournament after scoring two tries and three goals as New Zealand crushed Australia 34-0 in the final at Suncorp Stadium.


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Hina switched codes and won a World Cup with the Black Ferns in 2010 – at 33 years of age, the only debutant in the team – but was back in the Kiwi Ferns’ jersey only weeks later for an international rugby league swansong against Great Britain.


After a 10-year hiatus from the game – during which time she grappled with significant health challenges – Hina returned to help Upper Central Stallions win the inaugural 2020 NZRL National Women’s Championship.



“Trish is my lifetime idol. I first saw her at league nationals when I was a teenager with Bay of Plenty. She was playing for Wellington and had short hair. Oh God! She’d carve men up,” gushed fellow Kiwi Ferns great and dual rugby international Honey Hireme-Smiler, who was part of the 2003 and ’08 World Cup successes with Hina.


“We played together in the centres for New Zealand and again in 2020 at the Central Women’s championship which we won. She’s played a bit of club footy in Waikato and for her age is still a freak.”


The player of the match in the annual Māori All Stars versus Indigenous All Stars match is awarded the Trish Hina Medal, underlining her revered standing in women’s rugby league.




Clubs: Te Aroha

Provinces: Wellington


New Zealand Representative:


1997  v Australia

1998  v Great Britain

1999  v Australia (home and away)

2000  World Cup (England)

2001  v Australia

2002  v New Zealand Māori

2003  World Cup (NZ)

2004  in Australia

2006  v New Zealand Māori

2008  World Cup (Australia)

2010  v Great Britain




World Cup player of the tournament (2000, 2008)

World Cup team of the tournament (2003)