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Inaugural Hall of Fame inductees celebrated

Twelve of netball’s most influential figures, including administrators, umpires and players have been included in the first intake of inductees to the Netball New Zealand Hall of Fame, including three who have been awarded Icon Status.

 Legendary Silver Ferns coach Dame Lois Muir, former NNZ President and long-serving international umpire Dawn Jones, and former administrator and NNZ President Anne Taylor have been acknowledged for their outstanding contribution with Icon Status at the Hall of Fame launch during NNZ’s 97th AGM, held in Auckland, on February 24.

The trio were joined by former Silver Ferns playing greats Joan Harnett, Judy Blair, Sandra Edge, Irene van Dyk, Laura Langman and Casey Kopua, former Netball World Cup winning coaches Taini Jamison and Dame Ruth Aitken and former NNZ Board Chair and influential sports governance administrator Kereyn Smith in celebrating the first intake of inductees.

ICON STATUS:

Dame Lois Muir
Silver Fern #27
Silver Ferns coach #4

One of the sport’s pioneers in the truest sense of the word, as a player, coach and administrator, Dame Lois Muir’s influence has been profound. A trailblazer as a player when vice-captain of the Silver Ferns at the first World Championships in 1963, Dame Lois continued to leave a blueprint for those who followed with an unrivalled and exceptionally successful 14-year tenure as Silver Ferns coach.

That was backed up by her unstinting administrative capabilities that helped steer netball and women’s sport in general into the limelight and onto a more equal footing with their male counterparts.

Taking her place as a Board member of many high-profile organisations helped Dame Lois gain leverage, expertise and respect in the business and commercial worlds, which greatly benefitted netball.

Dame Lois first made her mark as a player. She excelled on the sports field, and in a rarity for the day, was a dual international, representing New Zealand at both basketball (1952-62) and netball. She became the Silver Fern #27 when selected in the 1960 team for the historic three-Test tour to Australia.

She remained a mainstay when re-selected in the 1963 team in another historic year, the inaugural World Tournament in 1963, the athletic Muir being selected as vice-captain.

Her longevity when taking over the mantle as the Silver Ferns fourth coach in 1974 led to Muir becoming a household name when generations of the sport’s elite came under her wily tutelage. Widely admired and highly respected for her modern approach to the game, Muir set all sorts of records when staying at the helm for the next 14 years.

As coach of the Silver Ferns, Muir was involved in three world championships, jointly winning the title with Trinidad and Tobago and Australia in 1979, finishing runners-ups to Australia in 1983 and winning outright in 1987.

At the end of her long tenure, Muir finished with an excellent 85 percent success rate which included 91 wins, 10 losses and six draws from 107 test matches.

Muir was awarded an OBE for services to netball in 1984 and inducted into the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame in 1993. In 2004 she was appointed a Distinguished Companion of The New Zealand Order of Merit, accepting re-designation as a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2009, fittingly becoming netball’s first Dame in the process.

Dame Lois continued as a national selector after finishing her role as Silver Ferns coach and served on several sporting bodies, including Netball New Zealand, the Hillary Commission, the Sports Foundation, the Masters Games and the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame.

A former Netball New Zealand President and one of the most influential figures in the sport's history, the Dame Lois Muir Supreme Award – the highest individual accolade a New Zealand netballer can achieve – is named in her honour and presented annually at the NZ Netball Awards.

Dawn Jones

With her astute mind and attention to detail, Dawn Jones left a considerable impression across many facets of netball, first making her mark as an exceptional umpire.

Obtaining her local and national umpiring qualifications during the 1960s, Jones accompanied the Silver Ferns team to England in 1974, in the process launching a unique international umpiring career which spanned 85 Test matches while including four world championships and two World Games. She was New Zealand’s top-ranked umpire for 15 years and umpired more than 200 first-class matches.

Jones was the figurehead of NNZ when becoming President in 1987 before its structure was refined from an executive to a board-run model in subsequent years.

Wearing many hats in netball, Jones also held the demanding position of principal of the Diocesan School for Girls, in Auckland during this time (1975 – 1993) making her achievements all the more remarkable.

She was also a Justice of the Peace.

After retiring from active umpiring, Jones became a member of the International Netball Federation’s umpiring committee, chairing its umpiring advisory panel from its establishment in 2008 until 2013, and was a key force behind the introduction of new rules and a new rule book.

In the 1994 New Year Honours, Jones was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for her services to netball and education. In 2015, she was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement award at the Halberg Sports Awards. In the 2016 Queen’s Birthday Honours, Jones was made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZM).

Anne Taylor

After her playing days, Anne Taylor became a certified coach and umpire, going on to umpire the first televised netball test match in New Zealand in 1969.

A mover and shaker, Taylor slotted into governance and administrative roles with ease where her influence in key areas moved netball ahead in leaps and bounds while leading the sport through some defining moments.

In 1978 Taylor was appointed President of NNZ, a position she held until 1987, and during her tenure was a prime mover in the decision of the New Zealand Netball Association to move its head office from Wellington to Auckland. This facilitated better access to sponsors while she also hired a marketing company which helped with the success of the Silver Ferns and continued to raise the profile of netball where increased media coverage and commercial sponsorship rose significantly.

Taylor was also responsible for starting a league for club teams, sponsored by the Bendon Group and obtaining sponsorship for the long-running Milo Test series.

In 1985, while still with NNZ, Taylor also became the Executive Officer of the Oceania Netball Federation, a position she held until 1995. She was appointed vice-president of the International Federation of Netball Associations in 1989 and subsequently became President, serving until 1999.

Other positions she held include membership of the New Zealand Council for Recreation and Sport, the Hillary Commission and the New Zealand Sports Drug Agency.

In 1987, Taylor received a Halberg Award for her services to sport and in 1988 was made in Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

OTHER INDUCTEES:

Former playing greats Judy Blair, Joan Harnett, Sandra Edge, Irene van Dyk, Laura Langman and Casey Kopua left their mark in decisive fashion during widely different phases of netball’s evolution.

Judy Blair

With teams being named on a more regular basis, Judy Blair became one of the first players to be selected in multiple Silver Ferns teams (1960, 1963, 1967). The teenaged Cantabrian had been part of the ground-breaking 1960 Silver Ferns tour to Australia, when aged just 18, and the first World Tournament in England in 1963.

After the heart-breaking one-goal loss to Australia at the inaugural World Tournament, Blair vowed to carry on to the next one, reinventing herself from a shooter to a wing attack in the interim with exceptional results. Far from the norm for the era, Blair had her first child in between world tournaments, returning to the court immediately while excelling in the midcourt.

In a defining moment for the sport in New Zealand, Blair captained the Silver Ferns to their first World Tournament title, in Perth in 1967.

Joan Harnett

Gaining her first Silver Ferns selection in 1963, Canterbury stalwart Joan Harnett went on to leave an indelible mark on the game. A revelation for all she accomplished in netball, Harnett’s ability to read the game and instinctive qualities as a shooter made her one of the greats.

Credited with changing the public perception of netball in New Zealand, Harnett was often referred to throughout her career as the “belle” of the court.

A match winner, Harnett, whose international career spanned from 1963 to 1971 and included three world championships (England, Australia and Jamaica). She was voted player of the tournament at the 1967 World Championships in Perth.

Sandra Edge

A rare breed of player, the energy and spontaneity of free-spirited midcourter Sandra Edge brought a new dimension to how the game was played.

A special player, Edge’s exceptional talents and athleticism meant she could play most positions on the court but it was from centre where she shone brightest, her unique abilities often proving game-changers.

Based on a strong work ethic, Edge set the highest of standards for herself and at the same time breathed new life into the game. Edge’s natural exuberance and dazzling skills set the benchmark for future generations worldwide.

Competing in three World Championships, Edge won the complete set of medals, gold in 1987, silver in 1991 and bronze in 1995.

Irene van Dyk

Ageless super shooter Irene van Dyk had a huge impact on netball, almost single-handedly changing the way it was played, both in New Zealand and around the world, while contributing immensely to its growing popularity.

Van Dyk’s talent showed no bounds when she made New Zealand her home in 2000 after emigrating from South Africa in her late 20s. She quickly became the face of the Silver Ferns and went on to rewrite the record books while continuing to play at the highest level into her 40s.

Van Dyk became the most talked and written about netballer of her time while redefining the position of goal shoot with telling effect. A crowd favourite, the affable shooter reached a number of significant milestones during a glittering career, where she was the world’s best at the peak of her powers.

Laura Langman

Winning the Dame Lois Muir Supreme title in 2015, 2016 and 2019 put the stamp on Luara Langman’s remarkable career.

Playing an integral role in leading the Silver Ferns on their stunning ride to the World Cup title in 2019, pushing to new boundaries was the hallmark of Langman’s exceptional career. The effervescent bundle of energy put the seal on her contribution as one of the game’s greats when winning a first world title after three previous unsuccessful attempts.

Langman became New Zealand’s first netballer to surpass 150 test caps in 2019 which included winning two Commonwealth Games gold medals with the Silver Ferns (2006 and 2010) before calling time as the most capped Silver Fern in history with 163 internationals beside her name.

The athletic and fleet-footed midcourter was a striking presence in the Silver Ferns engine room, exacting standards, drive, preparation and ability to stay injury-free combining to produce an outstanding netballer.

Casey Kopua

Seemingly destined to plug the only gap in her glittering resume, inspiring defender Casey Kopua came out of retirement in style to help the Silver Ferns clinch the 2019 Netball World Cup title.

Putting her customary heart and soul on the line, it was a fitting finale for Kopua, who had come up empty-handed in three previous attempts at claiming netball’s greatest prize.

Durability, resilience and sheer determination went hand-in-hand throughout Kopua’s storied career, overcoming triumph and adversity along the way to leave her mark as one of New Zealand’s and the world’s greatest defenders.

From the outset, Kopua brought a strong, no-frills work ethic both on and off the netball court, fiercely proud and loyal being ingrained traits. Setting the on-court standards with her strength in the air, through-court carries, ability to make an intercept out of nothing and single-mindedness proved an infectious mix as others fed off her exceptional exploits.

Kopua received the ultimate accolade in 2009 when assuming the Silver Ferns captaincy at the relatively young age of 24. During 2014, Kopua captained the Silver Ferns for a record 62nd time, eclipsing Lyn Gunson’s long-held record of 61 tests as captain.

Taini Jamison

A trailblazer in the sport she loved, Taini Jamison was an inspiring and influential figure who left her mark in many ways throughout her decades-long involvement. But ultimately, left her most memorable imprint on the coaching front.

In a natural progression, Jamison became the first Māori coach of the New Zealand netball team when appointed Silver Ferns coach #3 in 1967. In what was to become a history-making year for New Zealand netball, Jamison guided the Silver Ferns to a first world title when they swept all-comers in the second edition of the Netball World Championships, held in Perth.

Four years later, she coached the Silver Ferns to the runners-up position at the 1971 World Netball Championships in Jamaica.

In 2008, the Taini Jamison Trophy was established. It is contested when any netballing nation or nations, other than Australia, play the Silver Ferns in New Zealand while honouring an exceptional legacy.

Dame Ruth Aitken

Dame Ruth forged an outstanding career as a coach after being a successful member of the Silver Ferns team that were joint winners of the 1979 World Netball Championships.

Over her nine-year tenure (2002 – 2011) as the Silver Ferns coach, Aitken stood out as one of New Zealand’s most successful coaches across all sports. With Aitken at the helm, the Silver Ferns won the 2003 World Netball Championships, culminating in the Coach of the Year Award the same year, back-to-back gold medals at the 2006 Melbourne and 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games and the World Netball Series title in 2009.

Employed as the NNZ Coaching Director from 2011 – 2013, Aitken led the successful development and promotion of new initiatives to encourage increased participation at all levels of coaching.

From 2013 – 2016, Aitken was Technical Director and National Coach for Singapore Netball where she played an instrumental role in shaping the success and development of the Singapore national team.

She also played an important role as Development Officer for the Pacific Sporting Programme, a programme which delivered netball training to a wide range of participants in Fiji, the Cook Islands, Samoa and Tonga.

Her knowledge and experience have been recognised both nationally and internationally as a member of the INF Coaching Advisory Panel (2011 – 2014).

Kereyn Smith

On the back of an outstanding career in sports governance and administration, former NNZ Board chair Kereyn Smith has left a telling imprint on the sport.

Smith spent 11 years on the Board of Netball New Zealand, including six as Chair, closely followed by her five-year term as World Netball Vice President, much of it during a time of significant change for netball.

During her time with World Netball, Smith was involved with the delivery of many international events, including World Netball Championships, World Youth Cups, and the exciting new concept of the FastNet World Netball Series (now the FAST5 Netball World Series).

She was also instrumental in driving the restructure of the international body as well as developing umpiring, coaching and marketing panels. A key leader at World Netball Congress Meetings in 2007, 2009 and 2011, Smith’s resourcefulness helped netball communities around the world take the initiative in pushing the sport to new levels, and empowering its associated personnel.

With NNZ, Smith helped guide the transformation of the code from amateur to semi-professional status.

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