Dame Lois ‘overwhelmed’ by NNZ recognition

Lois Muir was inducted into the Netball New Zealand hall of fame on Saturday. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
Lois Muir was inducted into the Netball New Zealand hall of fame on Saturday. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
Nobody has ever questioned Dame Lois Muir’s place as an icon.

But Netball New Zealand (NNZ) has made it official, inducting the former Silver Fern player and coach into the newly formed NNZ hall of fame on Saturday - and immediately elevating her to icon status.

The Dunedin woman was one of 12 - three who received icon status - as the hall of fame’s first cohort, celebrating NNZ’s centenary year.

Muir, 88, said she was "overwhelmed" at the accolade.

"It’s like doing something you love and enjoy, and have fun doing, and you get awards for - I just can’t believe it as an old biddy", Muir said.

She played tribute to the "strong women" who took a punt on changing the game from nine to seven a side, which allowed the game to grow internationally.

"I’m just happy to be a cog in the very big wheel and part of it."

As Silver Fern No 27, Muir - who represented New Zealand in basketball as well - was selected in 1960 and was vice-captain at the inaugural World Cup in 1963.

After retiring, Muir became the fourth Silver Ferns coach in 1974, a role she held for 14 years, and stamped her legacy on the game.

She coached at three World Cups, winning a joint title in 1979 and outright in 1987 and finished with a remarkable 91 wins, 10 losses and six draws from 107 games.

She continued as a national selector, served on several sporting boards, including as president of NNZ, and became netball’s first dame.

Muir’s mark as one of the game’s most influential figures was stamped when NNZ named its top award after her.

But it was the players Muir credited as her greatest achievement.

"They challenged me, they made me keep learning and it was fun", Muir said.

"But my rewards were to see them grow as athletes in their own lives, but to [also] go on in their lives as strong women ... A lot of them have done things in netball as well.

"That’s the amazing reward - I can’t thank them enough."

Administrator Anne Taylor, who went to Waitaki Girls’ High School, and umpire Dawn Taylor joined Muir in being inducted with icon status.

Taylor umpired the first televised test in 1969 and went on to hold many administration roles, including NNZ president, Oceania Netball executive officer and International Netball president, and created domestic competitions in New Zealand.

Jones was New Zealand’s top umpire for 15 years, officiating more than 200 first class games, and later became NNZ president. She was a member of the International Netball’s umpiring committee, chairing the umpire advisory panel from 2008 to 2013.

Joan Harnett-Kindley (left) was inducted into the hall of fame by Netball New Zealand chief...
Joan Harnett-Kindley (left) was inducted into the hall of fame by Netball New Zealand chief executive Jennie Wyllie. PHOTO: MICHAEL BRADLEY PHOTOGRAPHY
Shooter Joan Harnett-Kindley, who now lives in Wanaka, was also inducted.

She was credited with changing the public’s perception of the game during her career from 1963 to 1971 and was named player of the tournament at the 1967 World Cup.

As was administrator Kereyn Smith, whose work behind the scenes changed the landscape of netball across the world.

The former Clinton farm girl spent 11 years on the NNZ board, and six as chairwoman, and five years as World Netball vice-president.

She drove the restructure of the international organisation and helped guide the game’s transformation from amateur to semi-professional in New Zealand.

Silver Ferns coaches Taini Jamison, who led the Silver Ferns to their first World Cup win in 1967 and died last year, and Ruth Aitken, World Cup winning coach in 2003 and Commonwealth Games coach in 2006 and 2011, were also inducted.

Players Judy Blair, Sandra Edge, Irene van Dyk, Casey Kopua and Laura Langman rounded out the group.