Matriarch of Hawke’s Bay hockey Margaret Hiha dies

Margaret Hiha at the time of being announced a recipient of a MNZM in 2009. Photo / File

Margaret Hiha at the time of being announced a recipient of a MNZM in 2009. Photo / File

Hawke’s Bay has lost one of its most multi-talented sportspersons with the passing of Margaret (Marg) Hiha MNZM.

The Hawke’s Bay sports matriarch died in Napier on Sunday, aged 86.

Hawke’s Bay Sportsperson of the year in 1968 and in 2016 acclaimed Hawke’s Bay Sportsperson of the era from 1966 to 1986, she was a provincial representative in four sports but best known in hockey, representing New Zealand and later coaching and managing the national women’s side.

In a playing and team management career spanning more than 40 years she was also a senior provincial representative in softball, basketball and tennis, including matches variously for Auckland, Otago, Bay of Plenty and Hawke’s Bay.

Her receipt of the only the third Hawke’s Bay Sportsperson of the Year award came after she had already represented New Zealand at hockey and after the first of the nine K Cup national women’s tournament wins in which she shared between 1968 and 1980.

That it was at the height of Hawke’s Bay’s 1966-1969 Ranfurly Shield rugby era made her winning of the award particularly special.

She also coached the Hawke’s Bay team from 1979 to 1984 and was manager from 1986 to 1993.

She also won a national women’s softball title with Auckland, as her senior sports career got under way while at Ardmore teachers’ training college in 1951-1952, she was a New Zealand Māori women’s tennis champion, and a Hawke’s Bay women’s basketball representative.

She then became a founding inductee of the Hawke’s Bay Sports Hall of fame in 2003, and was also a member of the New Zealand Māori Sports Hall of Fame.

Her services to sports and education were recognised in 2009 as a recipient of the MNZM (Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Born at Matatā, Bay of Plenty, on February 2, 1934, sport and helping others was her life.

Two brothers were Māori All Blacks at rugby, as was husband, fellow school teacher, Napier kaumātua, Hawke’s Bay tennis representative and ONZM recipient Heitia Hiha, whom she married in Matata on December 18, 1954 and who died in 2018.

Long after the big-time playing, coaching and managing roles were over she was still encouraging children to take up sport, particularly coaching budding hockey players.

Daughters Anne, Allana and Shelley have also excelled at sport, while son Shane is principal of Te Aute College. All played representative tennis through the grades for Hawke’s Bay, and Anne, Allana and Shelley all played representative hockey.

Her school teaching career spanned 34 years, teaching in Waipawa, Horoera near East Cape, Whakatāne, and in Hawke’s Bay, including Wycliffe Intermediate in Napier (a school now incorporated in William Colenso College). She retired from working full-time in 1997, but continued in part-time and voluntary roles, in education and health fields.

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