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North Shore sailor follows family and footy dream as tournament kicks off

Nineteen-year-old Milania Cairns is following in her father’s Navy footsteps but also stepping out in her own field – representing the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) in the first International Defence Rugby Competition.

07 October, 2022

Ordinary Hydrographic Systems Operator (OHSO) Cairns, from Auckland’s North Shore, is the youngest team member of the Defence Ferns women’s team. 

Defence teams from Australia, Fiji, France, Tonga, the United Kingdom and a combined Papua New Guinea/Vanuatu side will represent their countries and militaries at the tournament in Auckland. 

Second five-eighth Cairns played a key role when New Zealand beat France 22-10 when the tournament opened on Friday.

Rugby has been a big part of OHSO Cairn’s life. She played touch when young, boarded at Hamilton Girls’ High School to further her sporting career and also took up rugby league while in high school and was awarded the Most Promising Player in 2020.

In her first Defence Force Rugby competition she wants to put her best foot forward and represent the NZDF and also the Royal New Zealand Navy with pride and honour. 

OHSO Cairns believes her success is down to hard work and commitment.

“Try your best at everything you do because hard work will always beat talent.”

OHSO Cairns’s father and uncle both served in the Navy for more than 20 years and have passed on their love and respect for the Navy. 

It was a blessing to make her father proud and to be the first Cairns family member of the second generation to join the Navy, she said.

She also enlisted to be part of a team and to continuously improve herself.

“I knew I would be in a hands-on environment, where no two days would be the same. I enjoy teamwork and knew that in the NZDF I would have endless opportunities to better myself each day.

“Being able to say I love my job and being able to come into work knowing that I am able to learn something new each day is the highlight of my military career so far.”