Noeline Taurua was made a Dame of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to netball. During her time playing for the Silver Ferns in the 1990s Taurua won bronze at the Birmingham World Championships in 1995 and silver at the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur. Her coaching career began in 2011 and hiccuped when she was overlooked for appointment as coach to the Silver Ferns in 2015 by Netball NZ.

Netball NZ strike one: Netball NZ disastrously appointed Janine Southby to coach the Silver Ferns despite Taurua’s superior results as coach.

Stuff sports writer Dana Johannsen has ventured that Taurua and the other top candidate to miss out, Australian Julie Fitzgerald, were overlooked for “reasons unrelated to performance”

Noted

In other words – political.

After the Netball New Zealand rebuff and a season in which Taurua coached Southby’s old team, the Southern Sting, Australia came calling.

Start-up club the Sunshine Coast Lightning beat other franchises for Taurua’s signature, so she packed up her family – she has five children – and life and shifted to Queensland.

The move, said Johannsen, writing for the New Zealand Herald at the time, was “a slap in the face Netball NZ deserves”.

Southby was responsible for the disastrous downward tracking performance of the Ferns over the next three years until Taurua was persuaded to come on board last year to coach the Ferns back to a winning performance at the 2019 Netball World Cup.

Silver Ferns’ captain Laura Langman received honours being named as an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit. Not that Langman is unworthy – she most certainly is, but so is Maria Folau.

Netball NZ strike two: Maria Folau’s illustrious career with the Silver Ferns from 2005 until her retirement from the sport at the end of 2019 did not see Netball NZ put her forward for an honour – although it should have. The reason is political, of course. Raelene Castle was the CEO of Netball NZ from 2007 to 2013 and is now the CEO of Rugby Australia and responsible for dumping Folau’s husband from Australian Rugby.

Folau is the second-highest capped NZ netballer after Laura Langham and during her time with the Ferns she won gold at the 2006 and 2010 Commonwealth Games and the 2009 Netball Series and a silver at the 2007 World Netball Championships. Right up there as one of our best shooters ever. “She will always be remembered for calmly netting the winning goal in sudden death extra-time to clinch Commonwealth gold in 2010.

Taurua expected Folau to receive a Queen’s honour for her contribution to the sport following her retirement. After all, Steven Hansen got knighted even after losing the world cup.

If it was up to Maria Folau, she would have “slipped off into the sunset” without even a statement from Netball New Zealand.
 
But Silver Ferns coach Noeline Taurua was pleased they were able to publicly knowledge the star shooter’s retirement, given her amazing contribution to the black dress over the past 14 years.
 
The 32-year-old, a veteran of 150 tests for the Silver Ferns, bowed out with little fuss, Netball NZ’s press release not containing a single quote from the player herself.
 
Noeline Taurua said: “I’d love to be able to pay a tribute to her in a better way, maybe by the end of the year or something like that (New Year’s Honour?), do it in a proper way, actually acknowledge and celebrate her involvement in netball.”

Martin Devlin writing for a newspaper picked up on the glaring omission from this year’s honours list.

What a shame it’s all ended so quietly and uneventfully for Maria Folau. One of New Zealand netball’s true greats bows out without a by your leave.

In pure netball terms, Folau is a modern day icon of the sport. So why the disappearing act then?

Why retire without even a cheesy PR-written statement? Why just vanish into the never-never never to be lauded, thanked and honoured for her outstanding contribution to the sport?

Well, we all know the answer to that.

NZ Herald

Will Netball NZ survive a strike 3? Once again, they should be ashamed of themselves.

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