The Covid-19 pandemic dominated 2020, resulting in the cancellation of the Beko Netball League, two new domestic competitions planned for 2020, the Netball NZ U18 Champs, the Netball NZ Open Champs, and the national secondary schools’ events. There was a ray of sunshine when a revised ANZ Premiership got the go- ahead. An eventual move to Level 1 meant the league became the first professional women’s sporting competition in the world to return to action in front of crowds since the start of the global lockdown in March. In what had previously seemed unlikely, the Silver Ferns also got to play in front of home crowds. The Cadbury Series, featuring the Silver Ferns, New Zealand Men’s team and NZA was followed by the Taini Jamison series against England, the first international netball tests to be played since the outbreak of Covid-19. Earlier in the year, New Zealand’s most capped netballer, Laura Langman calls time on her illustrious 163-test 15-year international career. The Pulse make it back-to-back ANZ Premiership titles. Silver Ferns coach Noeline Taurua is acknowledged in the New Year’s Honours with a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to netball.

Two of the sport’s leading figures over many years, former Silver Ferns coaches Waimarama Taumaunu and Ruth Aitken are awarded Netball New Zealand Life Membership for their contributions across multiple areas of the game.


The impact of the wide-reaching consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic is evident once again, resulting in another disrupted year for many parts of the netball community. The Silver Ferns are among the casualties with their programme suffering plenty of upheaval, starting with the Constellation Cup series against Australia in March. The ANZ Premiership, National Netball League and Netball NZ U18 Champs are able to complete their competitions, but the inaugural Netball NZ Open Champs and NZ Secondary Schools Champs are not so fortunate. There is further disappointment when the Netball World Youth Cup 2021 (NWYC) scheduled for December 2 – 11 in Fiji is also cancelled. Adapting to an ever-changing landscape becomes part and parcel of life as a Silver Fern, Covid-19 once again being an influencing factor in their end of year programme. The three-test Cadbury Netball Series against the Vitality Roses is staged solely in Christchurch, including matches being played without crowds. There was similar disruption for the second instalment of the Cadbury Netball Series just two weeks later between the Silver Ferns and Aotearoa Men when a change in location is required.

The first player to captain the Silver Ferns in New Zealand, Oonah Shannahan (nee Murray) also becomes the first to turn 100, when she celebrated the rare milestone in September. Completing a defining year through her influential play and leadership skills, defender Sulu Fitzpatrick takes out the Dame Lois Muir Supreme Award in 2021. At the same time, she led the Northern Mystics to a first-ever title since the introduction of franchise netball, in1998. Named for two stalwarts and celebrating five years of the league, the ANZ Premiership Player of the Year trophy becomes the Casey Kopua Trophy and the ANZ Coach of the Year, the Robyn Broughton Cup. New Zealand’s Shirley Hooper was elected as the new Vice President of World Netball and shortly after is awarded Netball New Zealand Life Membership for her unstinting contribution to the sport.

The netball community mourns the passing of former Silver Ferns #37 Tilly Hirst (nee Vercoe) and #66 Margaret Forsyth. Tilly, a defender, was a World Cup winner in the famous 1967 Silver Ferns team while also playing in the 1971 edition in Jamaica. Shooter Margaret was a 17-year-old schoolgirl when first selected for the Silver Ferns and remains the youngest Silver Fern to play at a Netball World Championship while being just one of three Silver Ferns to win two world titles. Honouring her memory, the Margaret Forsyth Cup is presented for the first time at the Netball NZ U18 champs.


A largely youthful and new-look breed of Silver Ferns overcomes a disrupted build-up to this year’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, which culminated in an all or nothing final match, the team rising to the occasion to clinch a well-merited bronze medal. It was a similar story in Christchurch when after a three-year hiatus, a youthful FAST5 Ferns team was selected to welcome the return of the FAST5 Netball World Series in November. An improving FAST5 Ferns took out the bronze medal. Southland’s Kristie Simpson set a significant personal milestone when she became New Zealand’s most capped national league umpire when recording her 120 th match. After three Netball World Cups, three Commonwealth Games and over 200 combined national league games to her name, former Silver Ferns captain Katrina Rore retires. Rore earned 137 caps for the Silver Ferns. When the first whistle blew to start the ANZ Premiership, it also marked the 25 th season of elite level netball leagues in New Zealand (1988 – 2022). The Pulse become the most successful team in ANZ Premiership history when winning a third title. Pulse defender Kelly Jury and Mystics shooter Grace Nweke are joint winners of the Dame Lois Muir Supreme Award. After featuring for 14 seasons of national league netball, former Silver Ferns defender Anna Harrison calls time on her career. One of the game’s great characters and innovators, the ``Harrison Hoist’’ will forever remain part of Harrison’s legacy while adding to the lustre of her invaluable contribution to netball.


Held on the African continent for the first time, the 2023 Netball World Cup in South Africa proved the most competitive in its 60-year history but ended up being an unhappy hunting ground for the Silver Ferns. The women in black never recovered from the loss of key shooter Grace Nweke early in the tournament and failed to medal for the first time when finishing fourth. Drawing a close on New Zealand’s international calendar for the year, the vibrant, high energy and colourful FAST5 World Series event held in Christchurch event did not disappoint with the FAST5 Ferns clinching silver and the Net Blacks (New Zealand men’s team) claiming back-to-back titles. In the first-ever all-Auckland Grand Final, the ANZ Premiership finale is played on neutral ground for the first time, in Hamilton, the Mystics going on to convincingly beat the Stars. Central Manawa continue their strong legacy when claiming a fifth Synergy Hair Netball League title. Stalwarts of domestic and international netball for many years, Sulu Fitzpatrick, Bailey Mes and Claire Kersten announced their retirements. This year the netball community mourned the passing of three legendary figures of the game, Silver Ferns Coach #3 Taini Jamison, iconic coach of the south Robyn Broughton and Silver Fern #36 shooting great Mirth Solomon. Netball New Zealand (NNZ) is the driving force behind the launch of a ground-breaking online portal containing the 60-year history of the World Cup. Tina Karaitiana is announced the new NNZ President.