Black Ferns Sevens captain Sarah Hirini has been honoured as Te Pou Hapai Wahine, the female flagbearer, for the New Zealand Olympic team for the Tokyo Olympics.
The 28-year-old leader was presented the kākahu (cloak) from Ranui Ngarimu at an emotional ceremony with her team and family in Tauranga before flying to Australia this week for the Oceania Sevens.
Hirini, Olympian #1276, said she grew up in awe of New Zealand’s Olympians and the country’s flagbearers.
“This means so much to me and my family.
“Being able to carry the flag and represent the women’s sevens team and the wider New Zealand Team at the Opening Ceremony is going to be such a huge honour. I can’t wait to represent my country at these Games,” said Hirini.
New Zealand Rugby CEO Mark Robinson congratulated Hirini on a special honour.
"Sarah embodies the values of New Zealand Rugby and has been a leading figure in our game for many years.
This recognition from the New Zealand Olympic Committee demonstrates that her mana extends across the wider sporting community, and we think it is richly deserved.
Hirini is joined by Hamish Bond as the male flagbearer. New Zealand Team Chef de Mission Rob Waddell said the pair were chosen as they exemplify the values and culture of the New Zealand Team.
“Sarah and Hamish are outstanding athletes and are leaders off the field of play. These athletes are role models and bring a huge amount of mana to our team. I’m extremely proud to be naming them as flagbearers.
“They will follow in the footsteps of some of New Zealand’s greatest sportspeople when they lead the New Zealand Team into the Olympic Games Opening Ceremony on July 23rd,” said Waddell.
Hirini’s list of achievements in the game are far-reaching, on the field she has won an Olympic silver medal in 2016, Commonwealth Games gold medal in 2018, a World Cup title in both sevens and XVs and six Sevens World Series titles.
In 2019 Hirini was the first female to win the prestigious Tom French Cup for Māori Player of the Year, led the Black Ferns Sevens to a Halberg Team of the Year crown and became a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to rugby.