Royal connection returns to international netball in King Country 

By Taroi Black
Te Ariki Tamaroa Whatumoana Teaa accompanied by Rayray Jones (staff Office of the Kiingitanga) and Sarah Heke at Test 1 between the Silver Ferns and England Roses.  

The Silver Ferns were thrilled to learn that they had royalty at the test match against the England Roses.

Kiingi Tuuheitia's eldest son, Te Ariki Tamaroa (crown prince) Whatumoana Teaa, attended the first test match of the Taini Jamison Trophy at Claudelands Arena with other members of Te Kiingitanga.

Coach Dame Noeline Taurua said she felt honoured following the Ferns 58-45 win last night: “We’re in the Waikato rohe and for them to come here is beautiful,” she said.

The last time Te Ariki Tamaroa attended an international test on behalf of the royal house of Te Kaahui Ariki was accompanying his grandmother Te Arikinui Dame Te Ataairangikaahu (the Māori Queen).

“Hopefully once again that’s a relationship we can build.”

The royal attention from Te Kaahui Ariki goes back to the 1980s when the Māori Queen, her son (now Kiingi) Tuheitia and the Taniwharau Kapa Haka Group travelled with the Silver Ferns to London. 

Understrength side

England lost the Hamilton  58-45 but it was understrength as seven star players were still fulfilling their Suncorp Super Netball contracts in Australia while the national side was in quarantine, in Christchurch.

The experience of those athletes back in Australia add up to 458 test caps, one being Geva Mentor who is regarded as England’s top goal-keeper of all time. She debuted at Mystery Creek in front of the Māōri Queen in 2001.

Playing in front of a live audience for the first time following the coronavirus crisis was a big deal, especially for England whose people are traditional royalists and it was a "very humbling" experience to perform in front of the Kiingitanga crown prince, Coach Kat Ratnapala says.

“Royalty is massively important to all of us and we’re just really proud.”