Clash of the Coaches tops the Māori Sports Awards finalists

By James Perry

A Netball World Champion and a Rugby World Cup hero headline the Te Maru o Tūmatauenga award for Coach of the year for the 2019 Māori Sports Award.

Noeline Taurua (Ngāpuhi) is a finalist after guiding the Silver Ferns to Netball World Championship victory in Liverpool, England in July.

Having only taken over as coach 11 months earlier, and with the Ferns in the worst position they had ever found themselves, Taurua quickly set up plotting the path to global supremacy, recalling veterans Laura Langman and Casey Kopua to the side and putting the squad through their paces on their way to a seemingly unlikely victory.

Only 15 months before the Silver Ferns had fallen to world minnows Malawi at the Commonwealth Games, on their way to crashing out of the games without a medal for the first in history.


Noeline Taurua took the Silver Ferns from obscurity to the top of the world in 11 months Photo/Getty Images

All the while Taurua was juggling duties with the Sunshine Coast Lightning in Australia Suncorp Super Netball, where having already secured two titles in the franchises first two seasons, Taurua's charges battled their way to a third consecutive grand final, eventually falling to the NSW Swifts.

Taurua has previously won the Māori Sports Awards Coach of the year award, in 2008 and is also a previous Māori Sportswoman of the Year award winner, in 1995.

Japan Rugby World Cup coach Jamie Joseph (Rangitāne o Wairau, Ngāti Rārua, Ngāti Maniapoto) is also a finalist in the category, after helping guide the hosts to a historic Quarter Final.

The Brave Blossoms reached the knock-out stage for the very first time after going through pool play with a perfect four-win record, which included first-ever victories over Tier One nations Ireland and Scotland, before falling to eventual Cup winners South Africa, 26-3.


Jamie Joseph's coaching stocks have risen immensely in Japan. Photo/Getty Images

The meteoric rise of Japan under Joseph at last month's tournament, as well as his success as Highlanders Super Rugby coach has seen the former All Black firm as a fan-favourite to take over the coaches reins of the New Zealand side following the departure of Steve Hansen.

Rounding out the list of finalists is Rusty Matua (Te Arawa, Ngāti Tūwharetoa) who took charge of the Aotearoa Māori Ferns in the inaugural NRL Indigenous All-Stars clash in Melbourne earlier this year.

The veteran rugby league coach is a former Kiwi Ferns coach and assembled an impressive squad which included many players who had earlier featured in the first NRL Women's competition last year, as well as a handful of international veterans. 


Rusty Matua is a passionate Rugby League coach, especially for wāhine Māori. Photo/Gettys Images

The Māori Ferns side managed to squeeze out a narrow 8-4 victory to claim the inaugural NRL Women's Indigenous All-Stars title. 

The 29th Māori Sports Awards will take place in Manukau on November 30 and will be live-streamed on the Māori Television facebook page from 5pm.

Māori Television will have a delayed broadcast of the awards the following day from 7.00pm.