Rugby League is a huge part of Joy’s life. From the time her kids joined, Joy has been fully immersed in her local club as a volunteer, fundraiser, caterer, committee member, and as a player. She loves the camaraderie and community values and considers the club a second family - an honour she now extends to her Ryman village.
The former front-row forward’s league club and her Ryman village have much in common. Both provide a supportive environment where people genuinely care about each other and where she’s happy to go above and beyond because “that’s what you do”.
Although she’s left the field behind, the tackling specialist fondly recalls how she became a league player. “The men were always at the club on Saturdays - so I got some of the ladies together and said, ‘well, how about the ladies have a team so that the men can have the children for the day’.” She laughs that “the men weren’t very happy about it, but we did it anyway”.
Joy loves the club community and has always been involved in every aspect. From bottle drives to catering, she was hands-on. It’s the same in her Ryman village where Joy has earned the nickname ‘Camp Mother’.
This term of endearment comes from her desire to care for people. For Māori Language Week this year, Joy made mussel fritters, corn fritters, and Māori fry bread with cream and jam for her fellow residents “because I thought, well, that's a nice way of celebrating”. She also did an oven hangi for the residents and staff for Matariki.
It’s more than food though, it’s being present and making connections. And Joy quickly points out that it’s not just her making an effort in her village. “Everyone's pretty cool. They all get in there and do things to help. That's what it's all about - being there to help. We do that all the time.”
Joy loves her Ryman village and her advice to anyone thinking about moving is to come and have a look around for themselves. “The lifestyle is very good. You mix with people very easily. If someone new comes in, I say to them, ‘We're here if you need help. If you need someone to talk to, we’re open for you’.”