16 March, 2023
Rugby World Cup star Ruby Tui said she had the time of her life during her visit to Devonport Naval Base for International Womens Day celebrations on March 8.
Tui was collected from Auckland CBD and transported by Navy RHIB to the base, where she delivered a keynote address at the Vince McGlone Galley.
She shared personal stories, particularly around overcoming obstacles that stand in the way of success. “In the Black Ferns we have a mantra about getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. This means leaning into the issues you face and addressing them by being authentic and being courageous.”
Tui was given a tour of the base, and then was shown around HMNZS Aotearoa by its Commanding Officer, Commander Dave Barr.
Speaking to Navy Today after the event, Tui said she hadn’t known a lot about the Navy prior to the visit. The experience was “mind-blowing”, she said.
“The whole moment was to celebrate International Womens Day, and there’s pretty similar parallels between rugby and the navy. Rugby has been male-dominated, so it was just cool embracing females in this environment, and seeing the diversity. Diversity can save your life, or win a game.”
She brought in her Olympic gold medals for people to see, and posed for lots of photos. “It was a really great vibe in the room. It was a celebration of what we have done right, and a celebration of cool people doing cool stuff. The Navy has awesome human beings, just like you and me.”
Her tour of HMNZS Aotearoa made her realise what the Navy did for others. “That was one thing that really got me. This ship can create fresh water and full up massive boats with fuel. I thought the Navy went around doing military stuff, but they go around saving lives as well. Their whole point is to serve.”
Leading Youth Development Specialist Melissa Kilmartin-Kara was one of the sailors escorting Tui during her visit. “Tui is very honest and genuine. The way you see her on social media and on TV is what you get. She’s straight up, she doesn’t sugar-coat anything. Everyone was fixed on her, listening to what she had to say. When it came to questions, hands went up.”
The sailors performed a haka for Tui. “We hadn’t pre-empted it, but everyone felt the wairua was there in the room.”