A year in which Honey Hireme-Smiler endured the loss of her mother has ended with her contribution to rugby league being recognised in New Zealand’s 2020 New Year Honours.
The 38-year-old has been appointed a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to the code.
It comes only weeks after the Putaruru-born star led the Kiwi Ferns to glory when they shocked the much-vaunted the Jillaroos in the World Cup 9s grand final in Sydney.
Despite the on-field success, Hireme-Smiler’s year was clouded by her mother Caryn’s brave battle with cancer before she passed away in September. She kept vigil at her mother’s bedside for many weeks in Hamilton and later in Putaruru.
Hireme-Smiler and her partner Rochelle Smiler were also married, having their service at Waikato Hospital’s chapel so Caryn could witness the wedding.
Hireme-Smiler, a dual rugby league-rugby union international, has been an exceptional flag bearer for New Zealand women’s rugby league.
A Kiwi Fern since 2003, she was signed by the Warriors for their 2019 WNRL campaign but was ultimately unable to play for the club as she stayed in Hamilton to support her mother.
Also recognised in the 2020 New Year Honours for his services to rugby league was long-time West Coast referee Grant Gibson.