Pauline’s basketball journey a 55-year full-court press


Pauline Paterson. Photo: Supplied
Pauline Paterson. Photo: Supplied
Pauline Paterson of Ashburton has been involved in basketball at all levels for more than 55 years.

The 76-year-old has been a player, coach, referee, team manager, administrator and national board member.

It’s been a full-court press she has enjoyed every step of the way.

‘‘I’ve liked the different challenges it presents,’’ she said of the sport, and her many roles.

Pauline attended tournaments representing Basketball New Zealand, and has made basketball friends throughout New Zealand.

Pauline Paterson received a plaque acknowledging her time with the New Zealand Basketball...
Pauline Paterson received a plaque acknowledging her time with the New Zealand Basketball Foundation. Photo: Supplied
One of her appointments was as secretary/treasurer of the New Zealand Basketball Foundation, an independent body, sanctioned by Basketball New Zealand to provide financial assistance for the game of basketball nationwide.

It was set up in 1989 and at the time Pauline was the second registered financial member behind the current president. This month she stepped down from the role due to deteriorating health.

‘‘I have enjoyed this so much,’’ she said of the role.

‘‘I was hoping to finish the year but unfortunately my health had different ideas.’’ She was thankful to those who took on extra duties to help. Stepping back had enabled her to reflect on the game and about being in the ‘‘right place, right time’’ when it came to nominations for national roles.

‘‘They go round and spot check ones they want and go ‘Right we want you to do this, we want you to do that’,’’ she said.

She jumped at the chance.

Basketball was one of the best team sports, and its future in Ashburton was strong with good administrators.

‘‘We are one of two (basketball bodies) in New Zealand that own our own basketball stadium without any funding. No mortgage, no nothing.’’

Pauline deflected a request from Canterbury Basketball in the late 1990s, keen to ‘‘look after Mid Canterbury’’.

‘‘You don’t want Mid Canterbury, you just want use of the stadium,’’ Pauline replied at the time.

They had not been back, she said.

Pauline grew up in a netball playing household.

Her love of basketball began in high school in 1965, where she played both sports.

She picked up basketball following a move to Ashburton in 1966, when she trained as a registered nurse. She was in the nursing profession for 20 years.

The sport, played in Ashburton during the week, fitted in with her work commitments.

‘‘It had to work that way. I couldn’t play netball, as it is now, on the court and be working at the hospital,’’ she said.

Pauline met husband Roger, also well known in basketball circles, at an Anglican Church coffee club. The following week she watched Roger play basketball after her game; she played in a nurses’ team.

Pauline and Roger Paterson. Photo: Supplied
Pauline and Roger Paterson. Photo: Supplied
Roger then started coaching the nurses’ basketball team.

In later years they would set up their former family business, Paterson’s Funeral Services, formerly Ashburton Funeral and Cremation Services, and welcomed daughter Penelope, who played basketball in her younger years.

Pauline is a life member of both Basketball New Zealand, and Basketball Mid Canterbury. She held the secretary or treasurer role for the latter from 1972 to 2020.

‘‘It’s been a great life because we were both interested in the one sport - Roger excelled in refereeing and I came in second best.’’ Pauline said.

It has also involved a lot of travel with her supporting teams in Australia, Vanuatu, New Caledonia and Fiji.

In many of those countries, Roger has refereed too.

As the former president of Wheelchair Basketball New Zealand, Pauline supported the national men’s team competing in South Korea.

She is also former patron of the organisation.

In 2016 she was recognised nationally for 50 years of dedicated service to basketball.

Pauline Paterson, pictured in 2016 with BBNZ board member Greg Williamson, Basketball Mid...
Pauline Paterson, pictured in 2016 with BBNZ board member Greg Williamson, Basketball Mid Canterbury president Wayne Rodgers and Tall Blacks Alex Pledger and Shea Ili. Photo: File image
Her involvement is extensive and includes 10 years on the New Zealand Basketball board, secretary/treasurer of Basketball Pacific South, 2001 recipient of the Zina Gay Award, for someone who has made a notable contribution to women’s basketball in New Zealand.

She was the 2007 Basketball New Zealand Volunteer of the Year, 2011 recipient Volunteer of the Year local heroes awards, and 2012 recipient of Robilliard Trophy - sportsman of the year.

Pauline was also a top qualified level 2.1 referee who officiated at women’s under age and divisional tournaments, and manager of the New Zealand under 20, under 23 and senior women’s teams for three years.

She said that had been a steep learning curve.

‘‘The first tournament was pretty easy going as the players had to prove themselves on and off the court to be successful in climbing the ladder.’’

By the time they had advanced to senior level there were off court challenges too, she said.

‘‘You are there to protect the players and they were your priority to support.’’