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The Hockeyroos opened the scoring just before halftime while Manawatu local Olivia Shannon grabbed the equaliser late in the game.
It was a frustrating night for the Black Sticks women who missed numerous scoring opportunities including all six penalty corner chances.
Another Manawatu-based player Kayla Whitelock played her 257th test having returned to the international fold.
Meanwhile the Kookaburras were too strong for the Black Sticks men .
Sean Finlay, one of three debutants in the side, levelled the scores just after half time before the Australians sealed the game.
Coach Darren Smith said there were a few nerves after 15 months away from international action.
"It would have been nice to put some pressure on them at 1-1. I was little disappointed with the way we finished."
The Black Sticks lost their captain Blair Tarrant in the first few minutes after being hit in the face by Tom Wickham firing the ball goalward. With some stitches to the left eyebrow, Smith decided not to risk the skipper for the rest of the game.
The series continues tonight.