Seven superstar athletes who whakapapa to Tai Tokerau have been named among the 30 most influential Māori sportspeople of the last 30 years.
Six sportspeople from Ngāpuhi and one from Ngāti Hine featured as part of the Māori Sports Awards 30 in 30 series screened on Māori Television and Sky Sports. Those ranked 21-30 were announced on Tuesday, with 11-20 revealed on Wednesday night. The remaining 10 were confirmed last night after edition time.
Black Ferns and Northland Kauri rugby star Portia Woodman was the highest-ranked Northlander so far at 12th. Woodman, born in Kaikohe and claiming an All Blacks father and an All Blacks uncle, has won both a Sevens and 15s World Cup alongside her Commonwealth Games gold medal in 2018.
Close behind in 13th was Ngāpuhi rugby league legend Ruben Wiki, who won the NRL premiership with the Canberra Raiders before ending his 311-game career with three seasons at the Warriors.
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Well-known Kaeo-born New World supermarket owner Eric Rush was 15th, thanks to his reputation as one of Sevens rugby's greatest players. Also an All Black wing, Rush captained the All Black Sevens to two Commonwealth Games gold medals and seven world Sevens series titles in a 17-year career.
In 18th was squash player Leilani Joyce, who was the only Tai Tokerau-linked sportsperson listed outside Ngāpuhi. The Ngāti Hine/Ngāi Te Rangi/Tainui squash player reached number one in the world rankings and claimed Commonwealth Games gold in 2002 in the doubles and mixed doubles divisions.
Veteran Silver Fern midcourter Temepara Bailey was 22nd. The 2003 Māori Sports Awards supreme winner retired from the Silver Ferns in 2011 after 89 international matches.
Renowned sports administrator Raelene Castle, currently Sport New Zealand's chief executive, was 26th thanks to her chief executive roles with New Zealand Netball, the Canterbury Bulldogs NRL club and Rugby Australia.
Famed Paralympian Cameron Leslie was 29th as a three-time Paralympics 150m swimming medley champion and a member of the New Zealand Wheel Blacks rugby team.