Te Papa hosted the annual Basketball New Zealand Awards this evening, recognising excellence and achievement in basketball for the 2019 calendar year, and was a welcome return after it was postponed last year due to COVID-19.

The evening began with a poignant moment’s silence to remember the wonderful contribution Steve McKean made to the game in New Zealand. McKean was Tall Blacks coach from 1972-1981, coached in the NBL, and worked tirelessly for the game in Taranaki. He passed away on Monday aged 77.

When the awards got underway, Tall Fern Penina Davidson was named MVP for the year, as well as Female Player of the Year. Tall Black Corey Webster was named Male Player of the Year for his FIBA 2019 World Cup campaign.

Washington State University standout Charlisse Leger-Walker won a staggering fourth consecutive Female Junior Player of the Year, while her Mother Leanne Walker was named Female Coach of the Year.

Basketball New Zealand also inducted five new members into its prestigious Hall of Fame, with former Women’s National Team player Sally McPhee, long time administrator Barbara Wheadon, 13-year Tall Blacks captain Glen Denham, and FIBA Vice President Burton Shipley entering the illustrious hall. The 1978 Tall Blacks, who were coached by the late Steve McKean, were also inducted into the Hall of Fame.

The night culminated with Basketball New Zealand bestowing its highest honour upon former Tall Blacks coach Keith Mair. Mair joins Pero Cameron, Anita Hannen, Zena Gay, Sir Lance Cross, Stan Hill, and Carolyn Grey as a Basketball New Zealand Legend.


Di Robertson – Di Robertson has recently retired from the Basketball Hawke’s Bay board. During her 14 years of service since its inception in 2006, Robertson played key roles in the area of player and coach development, strategic planning, rules and regulations, and, most importantly, the women’s game.

As a player she played over 40 games for the Tall Ferns during her six-year career, captaining the team in 1984. She was part of the bronze medal winning team at the Commonwealth Games in 1983. She enjoyed phenomenal success on the domestic stage, winning seven titles with Hawke’s Bay during a career that spanned over 300 games.

Robertson also coached the Hawke’s Bay Women’s team for three years. Fittingly, in 2010, she became the first basketballer, male or female, to be inducted into the Hawkes Bay Sports Hall of Fame.

Jill Hill – Hill has been involved in the game for over 60 years and with Tauranga Basketball since moving to the city in 1965. Prior to that, she lived in Fielding where she began her playing career.

Hill played representative basketball for over 20 years in both the Manawatu and Tauranga. Hill began coaching in 1976 and has looked after teams at all levels of the game from Miniball to Masters.

She created the Atomic Masters Tournament in 1989, an event that ran for 30 years.  Hill also played in Masters Tournaments both in New Zealand and Australia. Hill is a Life Member of Tauranga City Basketball.



Donnette Daly – In 1986, Daly was the first women to gain the FIBA referee qualification (and is still only one of two to achieve the FIBA badge). From 1986 to 1997 she refereed 225 games in the Men’s NBL, including three finals.

Internationally, Daly refereed at the William Jones Cup in Taiwan in 1987 and attended the 1994 FIBA Women’s World Championships in Adelaide.

She was a key part of the first New Zealand Basketball Federation Referees’ Commission, which was formed in 1996, and became a referee trainer in 1997.



Reagan Ashley – Reagan Ashley graduated from Roncalli College in Timaru in 2019 and is now studying for his pilot’s license. He has refereed at local, regional, and national tournaments since becoming a referee four years ago. He remains an active referee for the South Canterbury Association despite his national commitments.



Curtis Wooten – Curtis Wooten has had an illustrious career in New Zealand since arriving in the country in 1988. In that time, he has taught, coached, mentored, and administered the game at various levels. Those teams include the Hawera Hornets, NZ U18 Men, NZ U20 Men, Auckland Stars, Hawke’s Bay Hawks, as well as numerous age-group teams.

For nearly a quarter of a century, he was head coach of Hastings Boys’ High School, before retiring in 2019.



Leanne Walker – Leanne Walker was a two-time Olympian as a player, and is making a major impact in the coaching space.

Her achievements in 2019 were incredible. As head coach of St Peter’s School, Cambridge, she led them to their fifth straight Schick Secondary Schools Girl’s national final, where they claimed their fourth title in five years. They also won the 2019 Secondary Schools 3×3 Championship.

Walker’s team came a highly credible fifth at the ISF World Schools Basketball Championships in Greece.

At a regional level, Walker coached the Waikato team to the 2019 U15 National Championship, while remaining at the helm of the Waikato Wizards NBL team, who finished third in 2019.



Matt Lacey – Matt Lacey was a Junior Tall Black as a player, and is now making waves as a coach. In 2019 he steered his Rosmini College side to a third straight final at the Schick Secondary School Boys’ National Finals, finishing runner-up in 2019. Rosmini then finished 6th at the ISF World Schools Basketball Championships in Greece.

At a regional level, Lacey led the North Harbour team to the 2019 U19 National Championship, and to a gold medal at the Great American Shoot-out Tournament in Dallas.

Lacey was an assistant coach with the New Zealand U17 Men’s team that won silver at the FIBA U17 Oceania Tournament in New Caledonia.



Charlisse Leger-Walker – 2019 was a busy one for Charlisse Leger-Walker. She attended the prestigious, invite-only, Basketball Without Borders Global Camp in the US in February, before heading off to Greece with her school team, St Peter’s College Cambridge, in April to compete at the ISF World Schools Basketball Championships.

In June, Leger-Walker was part of the silver medal winning team at the FIBA 3×3 U18 World Cup in Mongolia, before suiting up for the Tall Ferns in Japan and Taiwan. She played all seven internationals on tour, and helped the Tall Ferns finish runners-up at the William Jones Cup.

The FIBA Asia Cup was next, in Bangalore, India, where the Tall Ferns finished fifth. 48 hours later, Leger-Walker was in Palmerston North to help her school win their fourth Schick Secondary Schools National Championship title in five years, where she won her fourth MVP award.

Next on the agenda is a trip to Auckland, this time to represent the Tall Ferns at home in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament. All of this was achieved while she was also Head Girl at St Peter’s School, Cambridge.


Kruz Perrott-Hunt – In 2019 Kruz Perrott-Hunt was a starter for New Zealand at the FIBA U19 World Cup in Greece where he averaged 11.3 points, 5 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game. In the classification game against Argentina, he poured in 26 points, the highest individual game score by a Kiwi at the championships.

Also in 2019, following a season as a Development Player with the Breakers, he played his rookie season in the Sal’s NBL playing for the Nelson Giants where he averaged 9.3 points per game – scoring a season best 18 points against the Saints.

Perrott-Hunt has just finished his sophomore year at the University of South Dakota where he started all 25 games for the Coyotes averaging 7 points per game and shooting an impressive 43%.



Corey Webster – Corey Webster was a member of the Tall Blacks that managed a 3 – 2 record at the 2019 FIBA World Cup. Webster averaged 22.8 points 5.6 assists and 4.6 rebounds a game. His 22.8ppg placed him third overall in that statistical category at the World Cup and he was also Top-10 in the three-point shooting category where he averaged 55%.

The Tall Blacks World Cup team claimed victories over higher-ranked Montenegro, Turkey and Japan, they pushed Greece to their limit and were oh-so-close to beating Brazil.



Penina Davidson – Davidson shined in both the 3X3 and five-a-side versions of the sport in 2019. For the Tall Ferns, Davidson saved her best performance for when it mattered the most; at the FIBA Asia 2019 Pre-Olympic Qualifier Tournament, a tournament that New Zealand hosted for the very first time.

In Auckland, Davidson was the leading rebounder at the tournament averaging 11.3 boards per game. In addition, she averaged 16 points per game to finish fourth in overall scoring.

Davidson also turned out for the Senior Women’s 3X3 National Team to help them qualify for the 2019 FIBA 3X3 World Cup. Davidson’s offensive arsenal was on full display at the Qualifying Tournament held in Puerto Rico, where the team took out a bronze medal.

Her incredible year didn’t stop at the international arena, she was a key player for the Harbour Breeze team that reached the WBC Final (Women’s Basketball Championship).

Either side of the Breeze season Davidson was also a key member of the Adelaide Lightening team that advanced all the way to the Australian WNBL Finals in the 2018/19 season and the Melbourne Boomers who did the same in 2019/20.


Penina Davidson – (For achievements written above).


Donnette Daly – (For service written above – see Services to Officiating).

Veronica Thompson – Thompson attended Wellington East Girl’s College, where coached by her dad, Wellington East made their very first and only NZ Secondary School Girls National Championship Final in 1979, finishing runners-up to Mairehau High School from Christchurch.

She then followed her brother Rewi to the United States and attended Middle Township High School in New Jersey to take up the opportunity to play high school basketball and experience American education.  Both Rewi and Thompson were some of the very first players of Māori descent to have the opportunity to play basketball at an American high school.

She then moved on to Richard Stockton State College, a Division III college also in New Jersey, graduating in 1984.

Thompson’s parents had set up the Collegians Basketball Club in 1979 before she left for the United States and eventually changed the name of the organisation to Morehu to reflect the Thompson family’s connections to the Ratana Established Church of New Zealand.

In 1984, Thompson captained the Morehu Women’s Basketball team which won it’s first-ever National Club Championships title, beating the Napier Sun Hawks in the final at Walter Nash Stadium.

In 1985, Thompson was selected for the New Zealand National Team for their Australian tour. She was again selected for National honours on the 1987 tour to the US and the Olympic Qualifying tournament in Malaysia in 1988.

In 2001, Thompson coached the Wellington Swish to the WNBL Championship and was named Coach of the Year.

Thompson began working at Sport NZ in 2007 and applied her organisational and strategic planning skills once she became a member of the Wellington Basketball Association Board – first as a committee member, then as Vice-President and then as President.  She stepped down from the Presidency in 2016.

Thompson is a current board member with NZ Māori Basketball since it was established in 2013.


Marc Hinton – A New Zealand U20 representative, Hinton played for the Otago Nuggets for four years followed by a couple of years playing for Waikato.

On leaving Kings High School, Dunedin, he combined playing for the Nuggets with reporting on their games for the Otago Daily Times in 1982 – the beginning of his almost forty-year journalism career.

Hinton then went on to work at the Rotorua Post before heading to London and a spell on Fleet Street as he crafted his work.

Hinton joined the Sunday Star-Times in 1995 and has been with the company ever since, establishing himself as the country’s top basketball writer and one of the most respected rugby writers of his generation.

With a diverse portfolio, Hinton has covered many Rugby and Basketball World Cups and Olympics.

For all that he has always retained a passion for basketball particularly covering Breakers, Tall Blacks and Tall Ferns games.


Noel Hayman – Noel Hayman was the first Tall Blacks captain in 1947, and was arguably the preeminent player in New Zealand in the post-war years.

In 1949, Hayman led Wellington to the National title. He also led North Island to a 39-34 win against South Island in the annual challenge game and again captained the Tall Blacks against the Mormons in 1950.

In 1951, Hayman also took on the tasks of Manager and Coach of the NZ Universities team that toured Australia, one of the earliest representative basketball teams to have ventured across the Tasman.

1953 was to be the last National Championships that Hayman played at before heading to America.

However, it was in the Otago colours that Hayman suited having enrolled at Dunedin College of Education to gain a physical education qualification.

Otago proved too good for all opponents and no doubt Hayman took great delight in getting one over on his former teammates as the southerners defeated Wellington in the final.

Fittingly Hayman was awarded the Monk Trophy for Most Outstanding Forward and selected for the New Zealand Team for the seventh straight year.

That was Hayman’s last season playing elite basketball, stepping back from the national scene with five New Zealand titles to his name.

Perhaps it was his love of basketball that took Hayman to Springfield College, Massachusetts in 1954.  After all Springfield College is known as the ‘Birthplace of Basketball’ as the game was created by faculty member James Naismith in 1891.

Whilst at Springfield he gained a Bachelor of Science in 1955 and completed his Masters of Science in Physical Education the following year

Next stop for Noel was another famous basketball institution in the States – University of Oregon where Hayman earned his Doctorate in 1959.


Bill Eldred – Bill Eldred has been actively involved in basketball in New Zealand as a player, coach, referee and administrator for almost fifty years.

The 1970s saw an influx of American coaches to New Zealand.  Hired by associations to raise the standard of basketball in New Zealand.  Eldred was one of those early recruits.

1975 saw the first women’s club championships held in Masterton.  Eldred coached the Wellington Marist Club to a runner-up position at this event.

In 1976/77 Eldred organised, what is believed to be the first weeklong live-in camps for both boys and girls in NZ.

1978 saw Eldred’s involvement in the women’s game at an international level.  First as assistant coach to a 3-0 series win over a touring team from USA-based Lewis University.  Then, again as assistant coach, against the Australian Women’s Basketball team in a World Games Qualifying series.  Unfortunately, the then ranked 2nd Aussie women’s team dominated our women in a 3-0 win.

The 80’s and 90’s saw Eldred transition into administrative roles, most notably as the Manager of the Wellington Basketball Association. However, he still maintained one foot firmly on the court, playing for the NZ men’s team in the William Jones Cup in 1982.

In 1984 and 1985 he was the assistant coach for the NZ Junior women’s teams and in 2001 Assistant coach for the NZ WNBL Champions, the Wellington Swish.


Ray Strickland – Ray Strickland has dedicated a lifetime commitment to the game of basketball having been involved as a player, coach and as an administrator within the game. He started his basketball journey as a player in 1957 playing for St Patrick’s College, Wellington. This was followed by playing club basketball for the Marist Club as well as playing representative basketball for Wellington at both age-group and senior levels. He also travelled to the United Kingdom for work where he played for the London Latvian Sports Club.

An injury shortened his playing career, so he turned his attention to coaching and developing other players. Over a thirty-year period from 1964 to 1994, Mr Strickland coached the Wellington Women’s Representative team, the Marist Club team (winners of the Inaugural National Club Championships), Saint Patrick’s College and the Wellington U16 Boys’ Rep Team (winning the U16 National Championships).

Probably Strickland’s most influential impact on the game was his contribution through both governance and administrative roles. He was a Board Member and President for the Wellington Basketball Association, a member of the Saints Committee, Chairperson for Capital Basketball Ltd and Board Member and Chairperson for the New Zealand National Basketball League. During his time, he also fulfilled the role as the League’s General Manager, making some significant and trailblazing decisions, some of which still influence the game today.

Sadly, Mr Strickland passed away in January this year, but not before he was presented with the award at a ceremony in Wellington last July.


Sally McPhee – Sally McPhee currently lives in Waikanae although her extensive playing days were representing the Wairarapa, North Island and New Zealand, during the 1960’s when she was one of the country’s leading players.

McPhee represented the Wairarapa for eight years winning numerous North Island Championships and National titles in 1963 and 1964.

During her six-year international career, she went on two tours to Australia in 1964 and 1967, and played against Korea in 1968.

On the 1964 tour, she was New Zealand’s leading scorer and rebounder. Being the team’s only true centre, her workload was high and she was regarded as the equal of the Australian ‘bigs’.

On the 1967 tour, where the team played at the Australian State Champs, McPhee was again the leading scorer and a tournament Top-10 rebounder alongside teammate Lynne MacDonald.

Again, she was the top scorer when the North Island team entertained the Australian Opals on their return from the 1967 FIBA World Championships.

Barbara Wheadon – Barbara Wheadon’s interest in basketball began at Te Awamutu College in the mid 1960’s where she played at the school level, representing basketball for Waikato Schools, and also the National School’s team.

Wheadon participated in the game as a player, referee, coach, and competitions organiser.  However, it is at an administrative level in basketball, where Wheadon’s commitment and service to a sport she loves, are outstanding.

Her 40-years of involvement from community to international level in New Zealand was recognised in 2006. That year she was awarded Life Membership to Basketball New Zealand and received the prestigious NZ Order of Merit for services to basketball in the same year.

Wheadon was instrumental in the development of the facilities in North Harbour which enabled the rapid growth of basketball in this part of Auckland, particularly in youth development. She was chair of the North Shore Events Centre Trust Board during and after its construction whilst also holding various positions, including Chair, Treasurer, and interim CEO at Harbour Basketball Board.

In all she was a BBNZ Board Member from 1998-2008 and was President from 2002-2008.

During her tenure New Zealand made significant strides on the world stage: The Tall Blacks finished fourth at the 2002 World Basketball Championships; there was a quarter final finish by the Tall Ferns at the 2004 Athens Olympics; and NZ hosted the Men’s U19 World Championship in Auckland in 2009.

Her leadership and organisational skills were also recognised on the global stage.

Wheadon was appointed to the FIBA Oceania Board in 2002 and was President of the organisation between 2006 and 2010. During the same period, she was able to represent Oceania on the FIBA Central Board for 12-years.

Other roles have included a trustee of Sport North Harbour, a trustee of the Millennium Institute of Sport and President of the New Zealand Basketball Foundation.

Glen Denham – Glen Denham debuted for the New Zealand Men’s team in 1984 as an 18-year-old. At the time, he was the second youngest debutant after Stan Hill.

After appearing at the 1986 FIBA World Championship in Spain, he went on to captain the Tall Blacks for a remarkable 13 years, playing 169 games – 53 of those Test matches.

A former Kings High School, Dunedin, Head Boy he was inducted into the school’s Wall of Fame in 2015.

He captained the school’s basketball team to the Secondary Schools National Final against Church College in 1982 and wasn’t a bad cricketer either scoring a century against Shirley Boys in his senior year at Kings.

Denham played for the Otago University team in the early 1980’s while studying for a Bachelor of Teaching.

Denham made his NBL debut in 1986 for the Waikato Pistons, before moving to play for the Canterbury Rams, winning championships in 1989 and 1990.

He moved back to Dunedin in 1991 and played 10 seasons for the Nuggets in two stints. His 50-point haul against North Harbour in June 1993 remains a franchise record.


Burton Shipley – Burton Shipley has had a long association with the game as both a player and administrator.

He was a member of the YMCA Club from 1968-1975 that won the National Club Championships in 1973 and represented the Canterbury team that won the Provincial Championships in 1970. He earned a trial for the New Zealand National Team in 1974.

A noted career in farming and finance during the 1970’s and 80’s and a busy schedule supporting Prime Minister and wife Jenny helped prepare Burton for the many various organisational and administrative roles he has held within our game in the last 20 years.

Domestically, he chaired the NZ National Basketball League between 1999 and 2004, he has been a member of the BBNZ Board. From 2005-2010 he chaired the Board of the New Zealand Breakers.

In 2011 he was appointed an observer on the FIBA Oceania Board before, in 2014, being elected to the executive committee of FIBA.

In 2016 he was appointed as the Chair of the FIBA Basketball World Cup organising committee. The 2019 World Cup, held in China, was a huge undertaking and much of the success of the largest World Cup ever staged can be attributed to Burton’s diplomatic and organisational skills.

The only New Zealander to sit on FIBA’s Executive Committee in its 88-year history, he is currently Vice-President of the organisation, in addition to being President of FIBA Oceania, a position he has held since 2013.

1978 Men’s National Team – In 1978, the New Zealand Men’s National Team competed against Australia in the FIBA World Championship Qualifying series against Australia. New Zealand did not play well in Game One of the three-game series – which was held at the YMCA in Auckland – losing 93-71.

Preparing for Game Two the team still had a strong belief that they could beat the strong Australian team. The game was held in Walter Nash Stadium in Hull Valley, before a sold-out crowd. The game was close all the way, a 51-50 scoreline in favour of NZ with six minutes to play emphasising that.

With seconds on the clock and behind one point, John Hill got an offensive tip-in on a missed jump shot by captain John Macdonald, to win the game 68-67.

In preparation for Game Three in Christchurch at Cowles Stadium, the mood in the team was very upbeat. The pressure was now on Australia as no one picked NZ to have any success against the very talented Australian team. Again, this was a close game from start to finish before Australia prevailed 76-69. Not many calls went the NZ way during the entire game, especially in the fourth quarter, and the Australian referee made sure of that.

stand outs of this series were captain John Macdonald who it was felt outplayed veteran Australian point guard Phil Smythe. Stan Hill, who had just returned from a one-year stint at San Jose State University in California, was in the best shape of his career and extremely motivated to beat the Aussies. Work-horse John Hill, Stan’s brother, was a very solid performer in all three games.

Others who played well during the series included John ‘Dutchie’ Rademaker, Warwick Meehl, John Fairweather, Stu’ Ferguson, Gordon ‘Rookie’ Readon, and youngster John Van Uden.

By losing the series 2-1 the team were extremely annoyed, particularly with the result of the third game. However, looking back and seeing that New Zealand’s next win against Australia would take 24 years to achieve, they can feel proud of themselves – after all it was a very talented and strong Australian team, coached by Australia’s FIBA Hall of Famer, Lindsay Gaze.

Also, in 1978, the team took part in the inaugural Commonwealth Basketball Championships in Great Britain. The same group of players, but without captain John Macdonald, wore the Silver Fern at the tournament. The team progressed to the final against highly ranked Canada. They lost that game, but were extremely proud and happy to come home with a silver medal.

The Hill brothers, Stan and John, were once again outstanding. ‘Dutchie’ Rademaker, Warwick Meehl and Stu’ Ferguson played extremely well in the back court.

1978 Team:


  • Head Coach: Steve McKean
  • Assistant Coach: Peter Schmidt
  • Manager: Ivan Dominikovich


  • John Macdonald
  • Stan Hill
  • John Hill
  • John Van Uden
  • Gordon Reardon
  • Warwick Meehl
  • John Rademaker
  • Stuart Ferguson
  • John Fairweather
  • Paul Barrett

From this team, Steve McKean, John Macdonald and Stan Hill have previously been inducted into the New Zealand Basketball Hall of Fame.



Keith Mair – Keith Mair began playing basketball as a 16-year-old in his hometown of Taumaranui. He incurred an injury whilst studying accounting at Victoria University and it was then that his love affair with coaching began.

He has been involved in pretty much every level of coaching, including club teams, Secondary School teams, representative teams, NBL teams and of course New Zealand National teams.

At NBL level, he coached Canterbury Rams from 1989-1995 winning NBL titles in 1989, 1990 and 1992.

He also coached the Hawke’s Bay Hawks in 1996 and ‘97.

Mair’s international coaching career spanned 35 years.

He was the Assistant Coach of the 1980 Tall Ferns Team and the NZ Junior Men’s team Coach from 1980-1983. He was also assistant coach from 1984-1987 for the NZ Senior Men’s team.

In 1996 and 1997 he was the Under 23 Men’s head coach.

He became the Tall Blacks head coach in1988 and held the position until 2000.

During this time, his achievements were many, including achieving the first-ever test series win over England in 1990 followed by series wins over Japan in 1990 and 1994, South Korea in 1996.

He also oversaw the first win over an NCAA Division 1 College team in the USA in 1994.

Under his direction, the Tall Blacks won the William Jones Cup Tournament in Taiwan in 2000 and in the same year in Sydney were the first NZ Men’s team to make an appearance at  Olympic games.

He also had a brief stint as Head Coach of the Welsh National Team in 2015, a position he held on a voluntary basis.

In addition, his renowned administrative skills saw him hold a position on the BBNZ board for 18 years, including six years as vice president.  He was also Head of Sport Development for the Hillary Commission from 1988 to 2002 and then Chief Executive of Basketball England from 2003-2013.

Mair was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2015.