Northern Stars - In the beginning
Netball is New Zealand’s leading women’s sport. Traditionally regarded as a winter sport, netball is now a year-round engagement, particularly for elite players.
It is not only a game, but a way of life; when not involved on court or volunteering on the sidelines, fans and supporters watch it, read and talk about netball.
The Northern Stars have the honour of not only being netball’s latest top-level club, but New Zealand’s newest sports team.
The team was born out of a new elite netball league, the ANZ Premiership, which begins in 2017.
The Stars have aligned with the five netball franchises formed in 2007 for the highly-successful trans-Tasman competition, the ANZ Championship - the Northern Mystics, Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic, Central Pulse, Mainland Tactix and Southern Steel.
While each team forged their reputations, and built strong followings over the past decade, all eyes will be on the new sixth team.
Completing the outstanding line-up in the inaugural premiership, the Northern Stars represent the south and east of Auckland. It is a natural evolution for this rapidly growing area of New Zealand to have a powerful netball team, built on strong foundations and supported by passionate fans.
The Stars will certainly enhance this revitalised national competition, which aims to fortify New Zealand’s netball base and amplify the characteristic style of the New Zealand game – athleticism, flair, instinct and strength. You will find all of those traits in the galaxy of exceptional players who form the Northern Stars.
Home of the Stars
The Northern Stars are based in the south Auckland area, which represents one of the largest communities in New Zealand. Sport plays a vital role in the south Auckland community and netball there is thriving.
The Northern Stars will provide vital role models to this fervent generation of netballers, and to those that follow.
The Stars’ training base is in Papakura, where the team is privileged to be housed in a state-of-the-art gymnasium at the High Wire Trust. The Stars have forged a partnership with the Trust, which provides pathways and inspiration for at-risk youth in south Auckland.
Aside from their goal to succeed on court, the Stars are also aiming to give back to the wider community – influencing and helping people to learn and grow through physical activity, nutrition and mental health.
The home venue of the Stars is the Vodafone Events Centre in Manukau.
The name “Northern Stars” was inspired by Matariki, the small cluster of stars which appear low on the northeast horizon just before dawn in mid-winter.
Also known as the Seven Sisters, or Pleiades in Greek legend, Matariki’s appearance heralds the start of the Maori New Year.
The concept captures the spirit of a new team – seven players ready to take on the challenge of a brand new dawn in New Zealand netball.
Matariki is incorporated into the team’s logo, which also features the Northern Stars’ colours of purple and silver.
The larger star in the logo represents the team captain – or the leadership of the team and of sport in the community.
The dividing "swoosh" and stylised ball represent "shooting for the stars", as they head-upwards towards their goals.
Bill Francis – Chair
Veteran broadcaster Bill Francis, the inaugural board chair, has a long association with sport in New Zealand. The former Newstalk ZB and Radio Sport general manager was made an Officer of the Order of Merit in 2016 for services to broadcasting and cricket, after being involved in radio broadcasting for 51 years. He has been a director of New Zealand Cricket and Auckland Cricket, has authored several books on the sport, and is a current director on the Board of Radio New Zealand.
An outstanding Silver Fern defender from 1985 to 1990, Julie Coney (nee Townsend) was part of the 1987 world championship winning side, and captained New Zealand in the 1990 Commonwealth Games exhibition match against Australia. She also commentated extensively on netball for 17 years with TVNZ. She has built over 25 years’ experience in the travel, conference, event and hospitality industries, running hospitality programmes for major sporting organisations and corporates throughout New Zealand.
Mark Cameron has established himself as one of New Zealand’s leading sports administrators. Currently the CEO for Auckland Cricket, he was general manager of Basketball New Zealand, and was on the board of New Zealand Indoor Sports, before becoming involved in netball. Cameron was the first CEO of the Northern Mystics when the franchise was created for the 2008 ANZ Championship, with the team through to its 2011 grand final appearance. He is also chairman of the board for Hearing Dogs New Zealand.
Stephen Smith has more than 20 years’ experience in the New Zealand media industry. He held several senior roles at Television New Zealand from 1990 to 2005, including spearheading TVNZ’s digital strategy. He was Vodafone’s general manager of media and entertainment, and head of digital at Fairfax NZ before joining Maori Television in 2011, where he is now head of multi-platform. Smith has also been president and chairman of Surf Lifesaving Northern Region.
The career of double international Louisa Wall spans sport, social policy and parliament. A Silver Fern at 17, Wall played netball for New Zealand for four years from 1989. She then took up rugby, becoming a world champion Black Fern in 1998. With a Masters’ degree in philosophy, she has held a variety of roles across the public sector as an advisor and community advocate in social and public policy. As the Labour MP for Manurewa, in south Auckland, one of her priorities is to help create and cultivate an environment for the next generation.