Māori sporting legend leaves a legacy

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

The family of Margaret Hiha MNZM, and the wider sporting community, are mourning her death at 86 years old, leaving a rich sporting legacy in her wake. The former NZ hockey player and coach founded the NZ Māori Hockey Tournament, and was also a NZ Māori tennis champion.

Marg Hiha (nee Raureti) (Ngāti Rangitihi, Ngāti Whakaue, Ngāti Pikiao, Tūhourangi) was born on February 2, 1934 to Margaret (Daisy) and Te Whainoa Raureti.

Raised in Matatā, she had four sisters - Kanui, Parekura, Wynel and Irene and three brothers-  Laurie, Neil and Morris. Two of her brothers, Laurie and Morris, were both NZ Māori All Blacks and played for Waikato and Bay of Plenty.

Margaret attended Matatā Native School, and was later head prefect at Whakatane Girls High School. She went to Ardmore Teachers Training College in 1951 where she met Heitia Hiha (ONZM), who she married at Matatā in December 1954. 

She devoted her life to playing and coaching competitive sport at regional and national representative level, as well as teaching and supporting her communities. Her prowess across multiple sporting codes is of a class and era that today can only be admired in awe. 

SPORT

Margaret Hiha is often referred to as the matriarch of hockey in the Hawke's Bay region.

She played hockey and softball for Auckland in 1951 and 1952, and her side won the national softball tournament. She represented Otago in hockey and softball in 1953.

She also represented Hawke's Bay in basketball in 1951 and 1952.

A Hawke's Bay hockey rep from 1954 – 1980, she captained the side from 1964 – 1979. During those years, her team won 9 titles. She played hockey for NZ Māori in 1953 and represented New Zealand in 1967.

A multi-talented athlete, Margaret Hiha was also a force in tennis, taking out the NZ Māori singles titles in 1967, 1969, 1971 and the NZ Māori tennis doubles titles in 1967 and 1969.

In 1968 she was awarded Hawke's Bay sportsperson of the year, and was later named Hawke's Bay sportsperson of the era 1966 - 1986.

She was appointed as the NZ Women's Hockey team coach and selector in 1976 and 1978, and was the manager and selector for the team from 1986 to 1983. 

In 2009, Margaret Hiha was made a member of the NZ Order of Merit for services to sport. 

A member of the Māori Sports Awards Hall of Fame, in 2015 Margaret Hiha was also inducted into the Te Arawa Sports Hall of Fame.

LEGACY

Her greatest sporting legacy, perhaps, was establishing the national Māori Hockey Tournament in 1992.

Since then, the sport has grown among Māori communities, with the national tournament a highlight for many whānau, and many of her own whānau have gone on to represent New Zealand in the women's national side, and in the NZ Māori women’s and men’s junior and senior teams.

Marg's husband, Heitia Hiha, died in 2018.

They leave four children and seven mokopuna.

Moe mai rā e te ika a whiro, e te aumangea o te ao hākinakina, e te kaiako, e te kūia, e te kaiaka toa.