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Portia Woodman, left, and Renee Wickliffe with delighted fans Kohana Kauika-Rameka, second left, and Te Koha Kauika-Rameka. Photos: GORDON PREECE

Black Ferns touch down in Paeroa

Hundreds queued outside the Hauraki District Council Paeroa office last week for photos with Black Fern stars and the Women’s Rugby World Cup trophy.
Former Paeroa College student Renee Wickliffe and her wife and Black Ferns teammate Portia Woodman brought the silverware to town on November 25.
Renee told The Profile the session aimed to inspire and motivate the local rangatahi (youth).
“Hopefully this will inspire and motivate our rangatahi to do well in life in whatever sports they want to do, and that’s pretty much my vision is to hopefully encourage our people here from Paeroa and Hauraki,” she said.
“[Women’s rugby] has grown in the last couple of years and after the finals I think our vision was for women’s rugby to grow from there.
“I think that’s happened and I think there’s a lot more girls who are wanting to play rugby, which is something that we’ve wanted to do for a long time.”
Renee said during her time at Paeroa College between 2000 and 2005, she represented New Zealand at touch rugby and played in the boys First XV team since there was no girls rugby team.
“Vanessa Cootes, an Ex-Black Fern, a legend of the game, she came to Paeroa College and shared her knowledge and I had no idea about Black Ferns. I think after that I wanted to be a Black Fern after meeting her, so that was special,” she said.
Renee said after leaving Paeroa College, she moved to Auckland to pursue her Black Fern dream and was selected in 2009.
“I was just a caretaker of the jersey and every time I got that opportunity to wear it I would have to obviously work hard for it, but whenever you get an opportunity take it with two hands,” she said.
The Black Ferns retained the Womens Rugby World Cup on November 12 after beating England 34-31 at Eden Park.
Renee said winning at home was “mixed emotions” but also the “icing on the cake”.
“[I felt] just proud to be Kiwi,” she said.
“We had a fully-packed stadium and to be able to just walk out and see the crowd was probably the highlight, but winning at home is the icing on the cake.
“We played overseas every other time and we couldn’t have whanau come over there so it was very special because we had family members there.”
Renee said she “wasn’t expecting” the crowd numbers at the photo session and thanked the community for attending.
“It was very nice to have as many as we did today, and it’s pretty cool to share the cup with everyone and get photos and I’m sure every girl here in Paeroa would’ve appreciated that too,” she said.

Renee Wickliffe's nephew Davon Pokiha, left, and niece Hazel Bidois.
Miller Ave students Marlee Millen, left, Zaria Millen and Ezmay Millen.