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Rugby league stalwart bestowed prestigious role



Rugby league stalwart Cathy Friend QSM bestowed prestigious role

For immediate release

After supporting rugby league for more than six decades and serving over 25 years on the board, rugby league stalwart Cathy Friend QSM has been bestowed an official kuia (elder) of Auckland Rugby League (ARL).

Family, friends, and the rugby league community gathered ahead of the annual general meeting at the Mt Richmond Hotel on Saturday March 18, to celebrate Friend and her dedicated service to the game.

"This is a very special day for us," said Cameron McGregor, chairman of the Auckland Rugby League.

"For the first time in ARL history, we have created this role of such prestige and honour."

"Cathy's knowledge and experience is very much valued and appreciated. We are pleased that we are able to acknowledge all that she has done."

A veteran of the Manukau and Otahuhu clubs, 83-year-old Friend started her rugby league career as a teenager working in administration.

She was a driving force behind NZ Maori participation in the 2000 Rugby League World Cup earning the Maori Sports Administrator of the Year.

She is a life member of the Auckland Rugby League, Auckland Maori Rugby League, New Zealand Maori Rugby League, and made history in 2014 when she became the first female life member of the New Zealand Rugby League.

She has also been awarded a Queen's Service Medal for her contribution to the game.

Having retired from her role on the board in November 2016, McGregor says the prestigious role will see that Friend is still very much involved.

"She will continue to help us on our quest to make ARL the best it can be, while also being an advocate for our clubs and communities," said McGregor.

"On behalf of the Auckland Rugby League, I thank Cathy for everything she has done and will continue to do for us and our great game."

In her 64 years as a member of the ARL, Friend says she has learnt the importance of giving true service.

"I want to express my deepest gratitude and thanks to the Auckland Rugby League community," said Friend.

"I hope that over the years, I have helped many of you achieve your goals and victories."

"To my wonderful whanau, thank you for your continued support.

"We all love rugby league - that's what brings us together. It’s a real honour to be part of the rugby league family, so I thank you all from the bottom of my heart."

In addition to honouring Friend, ARL took the opportunity to present Distinguished Service Awards to Steve Quedley (Te Atatu), Rawinia Mana (Pakuranga) and Mike Vern (ARL football committee) for their loyalty and commitment to the game.

Paula Betham (Marist) was awarded the Simon's Scroll for her outstanding administrative service, while Mangere East was named Best and Fairest Club of the Year by the ARL Referees Association.

ARL's Brian Mills was awarded the Edith Woods Honours for his unbroken service to the organisation.

A former player, referee and now administrator, Mills has diligently served ARL and its clubs directly for the past 28 years.

He was general manager of the Auckland Rugby League in 1989-1993, before leaving to take up the position as financial controller of the then Auckland Warriors and subsequently NZRL. He has since remained as the ARL contract accountant.


Full list of award winners:

Kuia of Auckland Rugby League (elder and advisor) - Cathy Friend QSM

Edith Woods Honours - Brian Mills (ARL)

Simon's Scroll - Paula Betham (Marist)

Distinguished Service - Steve Quedley (Te Atatu)

Distinguished Service - Rawinia Mana (Pakuranga)

Distinguished Service - Mike Vern (ARL football committee)

Best and fairest Club of the Year presented by ARL Referees Association - Mangere East

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