Regional | Public Interest Journalism

Mavis Mullins continuing to break ceilings, first female HBRU president

Mavis Mullins is a trailblazing leader in business, agriculture and governance.

Now she can add rugby administrator to her impressive list of accomplishments, becoming the first female president of the Hawke's Bay Rugby Union.

Mullins (Rangitāne, Te Ātihaunui a Pāpārangi, Te Arawa) says while it's an honour and privilege, it's disappointing that there are still "firsts" like these in this day and age.

"But never mind, that's me, impatient!"

Despite that, Mullins says she isn't feeling any pressure in the new role.

"It is about doing the best you can with where you are and what you've got to do."

She has just come off the union's board - the first woman to occupy that role but has been quickly followed by more.

"We've built a really strong board. We've got Emma Jensen, a past Black Fern and a past Hawke's Bay Tūī and we have another woman that travels in from the rural part of our district as well. So it felt good to be able to move out and good that we're at a good heart in terms of where we've got ourselves to."

Rugby is in the blood for Mullins, who was nominated by the Aotea Rugby Club in Dannevirke, a club that has very strong connections to her Paewai whānau, including her koroua Lui Paewai, the youngest ever All Black.

She enters the role at a time when women's rugby in particular is on the rise, with the Black Ferns Rugby World Cup win boosting its profile, and the Hawke's Bay Tūī gaining promotion to the Farah Palmer Cup Premiership after winning the championship last year. Mullins says she would love to see the game develop further in the province.

"We've got four women's teams in the bay at the moment - that's a bit of rebuilding. But we're up for that. They're an awesome group of young women, so I'd like to put a spotlight and a bit of my time and effort into seeing how we can continue to grow and nurture women's rugby in Hawke's Bay.

"How amazing that Aotearoa got behind it [Women's Rugby World Cup]? The platform is there, all we have to do is leverage off it. We've got two rugby development officers now dedicated to women's rugby for the Bay so they're going to be awesome women, people  who are going into the schools working with enthusiasm, giving the hints and tips and tricks for those women all the way through into clubs."

She says the upcoming club season will be exciting, and vital to the recovery efforts post-cyclone.

"In the Bay, in particular, schools are just going back. We've still got bridges down, it's a bit of a tough time. I'm really proud of our union. We've been out there supporting our supporters, supporting our sponsors, our communities but you know, I just think to myself, with all of this going on, how cool is it going to be to have a distraction, at least for a Saturday or a midweek game just to get away and be in a place where there's energy and fun competition."

Public Interest Journalism, funded through NZ On Air

Public Interest Journalism