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100 years in the making, NNZ ready to celebrate

Holding a unique position in this country, netball is poised to mark a special milestone with key events and activities planned throughout 2024 to celebrate Netball New Zealand’s (NNZ) centenary.

On May 21, NNZ will become the first national netball body in the world to reach 100 years of existence, with a nation-wide day of celebration planned to highlight the occasion.

From humble beginnings around the turn of the 20th Century, by 1924 netball was being played on grass fields and asphalt courts throughout the country by women and schoolgirls in gym frocks and black stockings, to steadily evolve into a showpiece of athletic and skilful excellence.

In 1922, the four original associations of Auckland, Wellington, Canterbury and Otago drove the initiative towards forming a national association which came to fruition in May 1924 with the inauguration of the New Zealand Basketball Association. The colours of black with a silver fern emblem were adopted.

Coming into step with the rest of the world and changing to the seven-a-side version of the game in 1959 was the catalyst for huge growth in the game. A new breed of radical netball administrators and the political climate of the time subsequently pushed the sport into the mainstream.

In 1970, New Zealand became the last country to adopt the name ``netball’’ which until that time was still referred to as ``women’s basketball’’ but NNZ has led the way on many other fronts in propelling the game forward.

The rise of the national team, marketing expertise, indoor stadiums and television coverage followed with netball holding a strong stake on New Zealand’s sporting landscape.

The development of franchise netball only added to the popularity with the optimal breakthrough coming in 2008 when NNZ and their Australian counterparts joined forces to create a new semi-professional league, and pushing the game into a bold new era.

The pioneering spirit of hundreds of administrators and volunteers over the years has put netball in a place where it successfully holds its own against male sporting codes while becoming the blueprint for netball bodies around the world through its broadcast and commercialisation achievements.

New Zealand has also been at the forefront of men’s netball which continues to grow in numbers. The Silver Ferns and New Zealand men’s team made history when becoming the first televised match of women and men competing on the same court, in 2019.

Key events/activities that are planned for the 2024 NNZ Centenary celebrations include:

  • Launch of the Netball New Zealand Hall of Fame
  • Netball New Zealand Life Member and Service Award recognition
  • Silver Fern pin presentations
  • Centenary content series including top moments and influencers
  • Integrated 100-year celebrations across all Netball New Zealand events
  • Auckland War Memorial Museum exhibit providing a reflection of netball’s stories and the people who have shaped its legacy
  • The ANZ Premiership standing as a tribute to what has gone before
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