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Northern Districts has made it two from two with the announcement of the second annual NZC M ori Cricket Scholarship, awarded by New Zealand Cricket in association with the 2016 M ori Sports Awards. Northern Spirit player and Northern M ori Women s player/coach Kerry Tomlinson is the winner of this year s Kirikiti Aotearoa Karahipi o Te Tohu Taakaro o Aotearoa Scholarship the first time the initiative to recognise New Zealand s most promising M ori talents in the sport has been won by a woman The scholarship acknowledges not only Tomlinson s achievements on the field, but her leadership as the driving force behind Northern Districts Cricket s ground-breaking Northern M ori Women s cricket side New Zealand s first domestic representative M ori women s cricket team, which also takes in players from the Auckland region.

With the support of Northern Districts Cricket and Director of Cricket Pat Malcon, 26-year-old Tomlinson has been player, coach, manager and fundraiser for the Northern M ori women s team leading them to two successful tours to Rarotonga in the past two years. The team s inaugural match was also against Cook Islands Women, at Ohaupo s Kaipaki Oval in May 2014 while the Cook Islands international side was in New Zealand en route to an ICC regional East-Asia Pacific tournament in Papua New Guinea.

Through her relentless energy in this area, Tomlinson has not only created new opportunities for current female players in the Northern Districts region, but brought several women to the sport of cricket from other codes. New Zealand Cricket CEO David White congratulated Tomlinson on her significant achievements. Kerry is a wonderful example of a person making a positive impact in her local and wider community, Mr. White said. She is shaping as a talented administrator in the game, particularly with her passion for M ori Cricket. That she has achieved so much with Northern M ori Women in such a short time, whilst still fully committed to playing the game herself at the top women s domestic level for Northern Spirit, and in Northern Districts NPL competition, speaks volumes for her drive.

Originally from Gisborne, now based in Hamilton, Tomlinson is of Ng ti Porou/Te Wh nau- -Apanui descent but cricketing links were thin of the ground until Tomlinson fell in love with the game. The rest of her whanau in Waituhi play hockey.

As a young player, Tomlinson briefly represented The Netherlands at international level after visiting on a cricket exchange in 2009, going on to play four One-Day Internationals for the country when she was still a teenager. Always regarded as a player with a lot of natural talent, she has started New Zealand s 2016/17 season strongly with back-to-back half centuries in the Northern Premier League as vice-captain of Power. Having debuted in domestic cricket as a schoolgirl, Tomlinson has played the bulk of her domestic representative career for Northern Spirit and has also represented Wellington and Central Districts in the past.

Mr Dick Garratt, CEO of Te Tohu Taakaro o Aotearoa Charitable Trust that administers the M ori Sports Awards, congratulated Tomlinson on her many achievements. Kerry is a shining light in M ori Women s Cricket who we can see is inspiring many people around her, both on and off the park. The way she is going, I wouldn t be surprised at all if she goes on to get the first Aotearoa New Zealand M ori Women s side up and running. Tomlinson couldn t collect her award in person at the black-tie, televised M ori Sports Awards at the Manukau Event Centre on Saturday as she was representing Northern Spirit in the opening round of domestic competition in Whangarei, but said she was blown away and humbled to have been singled out.

I feel very honoured to have been recognised by New Zealand Cricket and M ori Sports Awards, and it s only given me even more motivation to keep doing what I m doing with our M ori team, she said.

In 2018, we re planning a tour to the Netherlands, which will be our biggest undertaking yet, while at home I am looking to talk to others around the country to see if we can put together a Central Districts/Wellington M ori Women s team to play regionally that s the next step. Then the next goal would be to help form a Southern M ori team. I m happy to get it started. It s about identifying the players firstly, and then, just having another me in those areas to keep the ball rolling!

So, if there is anyone in those areas interested in shaping a M ori Women s team, I would love to hear from them. It creates another pathway in the game for girls, another opportunity to play more cricket and that s what we all want.

Tomlinson’s $3000 scholarship package includes a $1500 travel grant tailored to assist her both with playing and spreading the word on opportunities to play M ori cricket.

The 26th annual M ori Sports Awards also saw three more of New Zealand’s cricketing whanau acknowledged with WHITE FERNS captain Suzie Bates (Ng i Tahu) a finalist for Hineahuone Senior M ori Sportswoman of the Year, BLACKCAP Trent Boult (Ngai Te Rangi, Ng ti Maru) a finalist for Te Tama- -Tanenui rangi M ori Sportsman of the Year and umpire Kathy Cross (Ng ti Maniapoto) one of just three finalists for Te Aratiatia M ori Umpire/Referee of the Year.