Tiara Te Maari-Whiley, 11, only girl in Canterbury league team after smashing teammates' stats
Tiara Te Maari-Whiley doesn't just get out and play rugby league with the boys, she has the best tackling statistics in her team.
The 11-year-old Christchurch girl was recently awarded player of the year for her Halswell Hornets team and junior player of the year for the whole club.
She then topped that off by becoming the only girl in the Canterbury rugby league 11s side, headed to the West Coast for a tournament this weekend.
"She's actually dominating most of the boys out there," mum Tiffany Te Maari said.
"On plenty of occasions she'll do a whole set [of tackles] on her own."
Te Maari said Tiara had been shaking up the male-dominated sport since she started playing "by accident" at the age of 4.
She was the ball girl for her father's team and one day asked for her own pair of boots.
Instead of using the boots to help out, she put them on and joined one of the children's teams.
"She has played with the exact same group of boys and followed the same team all the way through the grades. She's never gone into a new team," Te Maari said.
Tiara comes from a long line of league players making waves in the sport, with Te Maari having played for the Addington Magpies throughout her childhood.
She said Tiara's dad, Taurean Whiley, was "her biggest role model and her biggest support person".
Whiley, who also played for the Hornets and represented Canterbury, toured with the Junior Kiwis as a teenager.
He coaches the Papanui Tigers women's team, which won back-to-back titles this year and last. The list goes on.
Whiley said his daughter was "carving up" the boys, not just competing with them, which made him even more passionate about the sport he loved.
"I had to learn it all by myself, so it's just awesome to pass on that knowledge and the goods to Tiara."
Whiley had been raised with sisters who, again, had experienced success in their chosen sport. They "paved the way" for Tiara, he said.
They played for provincial rugby teams, the Kiwi Ferns, Canterbury Māori rugby league – again, the list goes on.
"Tiara lives and breathes it … but she's probably the most humble girl you'd ever meet."
Te Maari said Tiara was proud to be following in her family's footsteps, but her success in the sport had also shown her what she could achieve "if she puts in hard work".
"She understands what commitment means … she's sort of developed this sense of what commitment and determination can help her achieve.
"That's all just through her own work that she's put in."