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Matenga honoured for contribution

Wednesday 5 January 2011 | Published in Regional

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The Cook Islands’ most recognised netballer, former Silver Fern Margharet Matenga (nee Kamana), has been honoured for her contribution to the sport in a magazine style netball memorabilia book titled ‘Greatest moments in New Zealand netball history’.

Matenga is one of a number of extraordinary Silver Ferns profiled in the fascinating 176-page book which recounts the rise of netball as a sport in New Zealand.

Matenga was thrilled to find out she was part of the book although a little saddened that she wasn’t notified earlier of the book’s recent launch in New Zealand.

Matenga made her mark in the Silver Ferns in the 1980s as one half of the brilliant New Zealand shooting combinations of the 80s with Hamilton shooter Margaret Forsyth and together they were dubbed the ‘two Margs’.

According to Margaret Forsyth, her long time playing partner was nothing short of a “goal-shooting genius”.

“In her heyday in the early 1980s to 1985, she was the best goal shoot in the world and New Zealand’s best shooter by far,” says Forsyth.

“Her great range of skills and unique mobility revolutionised the goal shoot position and after the World Tournament in Trinidad she became a star in her own right.”

But it was the hope of becoming a professional tennis player which led Matenga to New Zealand as a 17-year-old in the early 1970s.

But after waiting for months for Auckland tennis officials to make contact – Matenga moved to Wellington where she joined the Pacific Islands Church netball team in time for the 1974 season.

Known for her ever-present beaming smile – Matenga, often described as New Zealand’s most likeable sportswoman, was a member of the Silver Fern side that shared the 1979 world title, won the World Games in 1985 and crowned world champions in 1987.

Matenga played for New Zealand and the Cook Islands in four world netball tournaments.

She has also been hailed as a pioneer for returning to top level netball after giving birth to her first daughter Luciana in 1982.

Matenga also features in Silver Ferns DVD ‘Sterling Silver – legends and superstars of the Silver Ferns’.

Details of Matenga’s incredible rise in New Zealand netball and in the Cook Islands are documented in the memorial book which is on sale in New Zealand at Whitcoulls and Borders bookstores across the country.

Or you can go to Netball New Zealand for details of where to purchase the book (http://www.mynetball.co.nz/)

The book is a must-have for any netball player and supporter with fascinating accounts of the humble beginnings of netball or rather women’s basketball as it was known in the early years to its prestigious standing in the world today.