Saturday, April 13, 2024

Black Fern earns blue honour

NZ Police Constable Iritana Hohaia had a tough choice last year – play for the Black Ferns in the 2022 Women’s Rugby World Cup or begin her Police training.

Iritana, one of the faces of the Puhikura recruitment campaign targeting wāhine Maori – chose the blue frontline, joining the 360 Mike Bush Recruit Wing.

Now, nearly a year into her Police career as a constable in Central District, Iritana has been named in the Black Ferns squad.

Police pup Iritana

She and her teammates visited the Dog Training Centre at Trentham last week.

There they met a 17-week-old German Shepherd pup who didn’t yet have an official name, but as she was from an ‘I’ litter, it was going to start with I. By the end of the squad’s visit she did have a name – Iritana, or Iri for short.

Constable Iritana, who is currently on leave due to her rugby commitments, is thrilled with her namesake.

“It’s quite surreal having a dog named after me – it’s quite an honour,” she says.

Inspector Todd Southall, National Coordinator Police Dogs, says the visit came at the right time.

“We are always looking for names for our pups and using various groups within our communities to help us – such as schools, community and sports leaders – has been fantastic,” he says.

“Having this pup named after Iritana is fantastic and acknowledges another amazing member of Police, and also brings another pup named after a top New Zealand sports representative.

“This initiative also helps the police and the dog section to recruit awesome people into the organisation.”

Previous dogs named after sportspeople in the black have included McCaw, Carter and Skudder.

Puppy Iritana was one of six in her litter and will remain part of the Police Dog Breeding Programme. Her siblings have headed to Wellington, Rotorua, Gisborne and Tauranga as potential patrol dogs. 

The I litter is of good breeding stock, with mum Fargo and dad Wellington patrol dog Utah.

After the false start resulting from her Police training, Constable Iritana – who plays halfback for the Hurricanes Poua – received her first full-time Black Ferns contract this year.

She was selected in the Black Ferns 30-player squad to compete in the Pacific Four Series and made her international debut against Australia on 29 June 2023 at Brisbane.

Best wishes to Iritana and the Black Ferns as they prepare to host the 2023 WXV tournament. Their first game is against France tonight at Wellington Regional Stadium, followed by Wales (28 October, Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin) and England (4 November, Mount Smart, Auckland).

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