'Incredible' Silver Ferns welcomed to Parliament

Jason Walls, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Monday, 26 August 2019, 3:22PM
The Silver Ferns with the Netball World Cup outside Parliament. (Photo / Photosport)
The Silver Ferns with the Netball World Cup outside Parliament. (Photo / Photosport)

The world champion Silver Ferns were welcomed as "heroes" at Parliament this afternoon, with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern telling the team it has the admiration of all New Zealanders.

Before addressing the crowd of 200-300, mostly kids, outside Parliament today, the team gathered in Ardern's office to talk about issues such as pay parity for women in sports.

In a nail-biting game last month, the Silver Ferns beat Australia 52-51 at the final in Liverpool.

It's the first time the Silver Ferns have won the world cup in 16 years.

Ardern said it was an "incredible" final and the team was thrilling to watch.

"We were not going to let you get away with just sneaking back into Aotearoa and not having a moment where we can say that you're incredible."

She said the team had been on a journey which has had highs and lows but the team came out on top.

"And for that, you have all of the admiration of Kiwis here today and Kiwis generally – so thank you."

Silver Fern Coach Noeline Taurua said the challenge for the team now was to move forward and figure out what the next four years needed to look like.

She said when the team was in Ardern's office earlier today, "she [Ardern] did speak to us about parity; she did speak to us about women in sport".

Taurua said the Silver Ferns' focus was on what it could do "for the greater good".

National's sports spokeswoman Nikki Kaye said the team was "the best of New Zealand".

"I hope, as do other parliamentarians here, that you become a catalyst for change for women in sport so all the young girls in New Zealand can go on to have equality."

The Silver Ferns arrive at Parliament for the celebration. Photo / Photosport

Speaker of the House Trevor Mallard, who was Sports Minister last time the Silver Ferns won the World Cup, said the team were "my heroes".

But his speech nearly turned from jubilation to tragedy at one point, as a gust of wind came within an inch of blowing the World Cup trophy off the podium and onto the hard steps of Parliament.

Mallard reminisced about the last time the Silver Ferns had won the World Cup.

He and other Ministers, including then-Prime Minister Helen Clark, were in a Cabinet meeting and he was getting updates on the game via text.

"Kids, close your ears," he told the crowd, of mostly children before quoting Clark, who had said at the time: "Oh bugger it, it's too close we're going to go and watch".

He said this was the first time he had ever heard a Cabinet Committee deferred for an outside event.