Mitch Karpik didn't know much about his Māori heritage until recently, but now it's been discovered he wants to find out more.

Making the Māori All Blacks for their tour of the Americas next month is just a bonus.

"Whether I made the team or not it's just cool to know where I came from," says the blond haired flanker who was named both the Steamers Player of the Year and Player's Player of the Year at the Bay of Plenty rugby awards on Wednesday night.

"It's actually on my mum's side. She traced it back a couple of years ago now and confirmed it with kaumatua down Hawke's Bay way.


"Hopefully one day I can get down there with Mum and meet the whanau."

Karpik's awards on Wednesday night reflect a fine season of prominent work on the field, especially at the breakdown. He's been a master of the turnover and although not especially tall, he's robust and fast in the style of many a modern openside flanker.

"It was very disappointing that we couldn't progress and make the semis. We lost our way there in the middle of the season but found it again, found a bit of spark, but it was too little too late" he says.

The 23-year-old is getting ready for a busy summer.

This week is a break, but he assembles with the Māori All Blacks next week, leaves on October 27 for North America and when he's back from the subsequent two matches in South America, it will be pretty much straight into pre-season training before Christmas for his fourth year with the Chiefs.

"I never complain. I love my job" he says.

But he is keeping his options open for a life after rugby by working his way through law and business degrees at Waikato University.

That's led to another tricky situation.

"I'm not too sure about how I'm going to sit the exams over in Chile and Brazil. I'm working through that at the moment, but Waikato University has been very good in the past.

"I've put in a bit of work during the year, so I don't want that to go to waste. I'm going to have to take a couple of text books with me, but it gets a bit boring on the plane so that might be a good opportunity to get stuck in."