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Queen’s Birthday Honours for Netball trio

Silver Fern Joan Harnett-Kindley, physiotherapist Sharon Kearney and administrator Mary Thompson have been recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for their outstanding contribution to Netball over many years.

The trio have been recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for their separate areas of netball expertise, spanning several decades.

Joan Harnett-Kindley, Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit

Sharon Kearney, Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit

Mary Thompson, Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit

Harnett-Kindley, now based in Wanaka, was the golden girl of her era during the 1960s and early 70s in which the stylish shooter excelled for Canterbury and the Silver Ferns. The match-winning goal attack became Silver Fern #34 in 1963 and went on to fashion an outstanding career which included featuring in three Netball World Cups (England, Australia, Jamaica).

Credited with changing the public perception of netball in New Zealand, Harnett-Kindley was often referred to throughout her career as the ``belle’’ of the court. She was voted player of the tournament at the 1967 world championships in Perth which led to the Silver Ferns first Netball World Cup triumph.

Her impact was duly noted in 1999 when Netball New Zealand (NNZ) celebrated its 75th anniversary. Harnett-Kindley was voted by a panel of experts as the goal attack in the Dream Team named at the event while also winning the public vote as the ``dream’’ player of the previous 75 years.

After a long career, Harnett-Kindley retired from all netball in 1974 but remained active as a coach for many years.

Harnett-Kindley’s honour also recognises her long career in the real estate industry in New Zealand, including being the first woman appointed to the Real Estate Council.

A physiotherapist since the 1990s, Kearney, based in Akaroa, has been involved in a number of sports including basketball, hockey, rugby and football but it is in Netball where she has left the biggest impression.

After attending three Netball World Youth Cups as the NNZ U21 physiotherapist during the 1990s, Kearney took over as Medical Co-ordinator and touring physiotherapist for the sport’s governing body and attended five Netball World Cups and two Commonwealth Games with the Silver Ferns.

As the Injury Prevention Programme Manager for NNZ, Kearney has gone on to play a major hand in revolutionising injury prevention in sport and is regarded as one of the country’s top experts in the field.

Kearney has remained at the forefront of developing injury prevention, physio and management programmes, working closely with the Accident Compensation Corporation at community level to help decrease significant sporting injuries in New Zealand.

Her research work and the subsequent reduction in major knee injuries in netball is an on-going legacy to Kearney’s vital contribution to health and well-being.

Rotorua’s Mary Thompson, has been a netball leader in the Bay of Plenty for more than 40 years. She’s been Netball Rotorua’s secretary for over three decades and convened the Kurangaituku tournament – one of the country’s largest recreational netball events. Thompson, is a past manager of the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic, and has been event co-ordinator of the Magic’s home games for the past 20 years.

If there is a finger on the pulse of Netball in Rotorua – it belongs to Thompson, a tireless volunteer at all levels over many years. In what started out as a playing career, including representative duties for Waikato, Thompson followed up with roles as an umpire (up to Zone and Regional level), and as a team manager in the former Coca-Cola Cup.

But Thompson a Netball New Zealand Service Award holder found her true niche in administration having taken up positions on the Netball Rotorua Executive in 1979 where she remains a loyal servant.

It is behind the scenes where Thompson excels, her leadership of the day-to-day running of Netball in Rotorua, her responsibility for 40 years of catering for approximately 3000 players each week, is the real mark of her selfless contribution.

Thompson’s contribution to the Bay of Plenty Region has been recognised with Service (2001) and Life Membership (2008) awards, along with a Sport Bay of Plenty Service to Sport Award (2008) and Community Leadership Award for Services to Sport in 2012.