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Where to next for Manea-Faith Waaka

Brie-Ellen Harding
Manea Faith Brie Ellen Harding 2424
Manea-Faith Waaka  New Zealand Rugby League

The future is bright for aspiring rugby league player, Manea-Faith Waaka.

With the summer sports season wrapping up, winter sports such as rugby, league and football are beginning to fill up Christchurch fields. Up-and-coming rugby league star Manea-Faith Waaka is juggling two codes this winter, committing to both women's rugby and women's rugby league in the 03.

19-year-old Waaka first put on her footy boots at the age of 15 for the Marian College Rugby team. Since then, her hard work, determination and love for the game of rugby have opened up a world of opportunities. During her first season of rugby, she was selected for the U19 Canterbury Girls Team where she played until she finished high school. Following high school, she was selected to train in the Canterbury Women's Squad for the Farah Palmer Cup. In addition to this, Waaka has transferred her skillset into different codes, wearing the fern on her chest in Rugby Sevens, Touch and now Rugby League.

Waaka only began her journey in Rugby League in 2023. After playing women's rugby for The Christchurch Women's Rugby FC on a Saturday, she pulled on a Sydenham Swans Rugby League jersey every Sunday. Finding a passion for the game of league, Waaka then went on to make the Canterbury Women's Rugby League team.

New Zealand Rugby League selected Waaka to be a part of the 2023 The Ahi Kā Aotearoa squad after she participated in the ‘RISE’ Talent Development Programme which was delivered in partnership with the NRL. Recently, Waaka played for the Ahi Kā Aotearoa team in the Harvey Norman Women’s Championship on the Gold Coast. NRLW coaches gathered at the four-day tournament, scouting for up-and-coming stars from across Australia and the New Zealand team.

The team won two out of four of their games.

“It’s a great opportunity for us Kiwi girls to get noticed on the big stage,” Waaka said. 

Manea Faith Brie Ellen Harding 2424.
Ahi Kā Aotearoa New Zealand Rugby League

Following the tournament, Waaka is hungry to go professional within her League career.

“At the end of the year I’m thinking of heading over the ditch to look for more opportunities,” she said.

Waaka will now focus on continuing to grow her game experience, skillset and knowledge that may be needed to pursue opportunities outside of Ōtautahi. Until then, she will continue occupying her winter weekends with both rugby and rugby league in the 03. The idea of heading to Auckland to further her skills as well as heading over the ditch is an opportunity Waaka is willing to take.

With the One New Zealand Warriors announcing their return to the NRLW in 2025, Waaka may find a door that could open sooner, rather than later.