Dedicated to the work of the many

Three-time Rugby World Cup-winning Black Ferns captain Prof Farah Palmer, Ngati Maniapoto, has...
Three-time Rugby World Cup-winning Black Ferns captain Prof Farah Palmer, Ngati Maniapoto, has been made dame companion for her work with sport. Photos: The New Zealand Herlad/ODT Files



Palmerston North

For services to sport, particularly rugby

Prof Farah Palmer had a "mixture of emotions" when asked to become a dame.

The former Black Ferns captain was humbled and felt there were worthy others who dedicated their lives to their "kaupapa".

But today Dame Farah has been given one of New Zealand’s highest accolades in the New Year Honour list.

"For me, I wanted to say this is for all those people who have been involved in women’s rugby in particular, and Maori rugby, who have done amazing things and never probably got an honour," Dame Farah said.

"There’s a saying that ‘it’s not the work of one, it’s the work of many’ and that’s really why I said yes and I hope that people realise that."

Dame Farah played for Otago in the Women’s Provincial Championship — now the Farah Palmer Cup — while studying at the University of Otago in the 1990s.

She went on to be a three-time Rugby World Cup champion and hold various governance roles since retiring in 2006.

She was a professional development manager for Manawatu Rugby, an independent member of the Maori Rugby board, a member of the women’s advisory committee of the International Rugby board and a research consultant for New Zealand Rugby (NZR).

Dame Farah, of Ngati Maniapoto descent, made history as the first woman elected to the NZR board in 2016 and was named deputy chairwoman last year.

Through her roles, she helped NZR’s bid in 2018 to host the Women’s Rugby World Cup.

"It felt like I’d won a fourth world cup."

She was most proud of that feat, her own world cups and her work to integrate Maori rugby.

Aside from rugby, Dame Farah is an accomplished academic and was appointed po akonga (executive director) of Maori student success at Massey University this year.

She was previously the associate dean for Maori at Massey Business School from 2018.

Dame Farah was a member of Te Manahua New Zealand universities women in leadership programme committee from 2015 to 2020, the ministerial task force reviewing alcohol advertising and sponsorship in 2014, and a founding trustee for Manukura, an education programme with a Te Ao Maori approach to excellence in sport, culture and education.

She has held several mentor and patron roles within education and the public sector. She is a member of the Sport and Recreation New Zealand Ihi Aotearoa Board.

She was inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame in 2014 and the Maori Sports Hall of Fame in 2019.

In 2018, she won the Women of Influence board and management award, won the Te Rangituataka supreme award at the Kawenata Awards in 2021 and won the Vernon Pugh Award for distinguished service at the World Rugby awards earlier this year.

She was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2007.