The time, 10.07am, is something that will perhaps be forever etched in the mind of Hawke's Bay netballer Kimiora Poi after she was selected as a Silver Ferns player today.

"It was the time I was in a meeting with the coaches," said Poi after coach Noeline Taurua and her assistant, Deborah Fuller informed her in Auckland she was jetting off with the New Zealand team to compete in the Quad Series in England next month.

But what the 21-year-old Canterbury University student didn't know was that she had become the first Bay netballer to represent her country since Margaret Elliott in 1960.

"I didn't know that it was so many years ago for someone from Hawke's Bay to do that," Poi said, lost for words but acknowledging it took a lot of hard work for her to reach this stage of her budding but exciting career.


The late Rona McCarthy (nee Tong), of Hastings, was the first in 1936 when nine-member teams used to take to the court. The late Gladys Symes (1937), Ruth Butcher (1939) and Elliott followed in the footsteps of the ex-Hastings Netball Centre patron McCarthy, who died seven months short of her 100th birthday in February 2016.

Jodi Tod, of Waipukurau, came agonisingly close to becoming a Silver Fern in 2008 and Charlotte Kight had emulated her feat in 2009.

Tod, who had moved north to Tauranga in the mid-2000s to play for the Waikato/BOP Magic, had taken her culling from the 16-player squad on the chin with the heralding of the then 21-year-old newcomer, Katrina Grant, for the two home-test series against Australia.

Ironically, vice-captain Grant, who married Joel Rore in Wellington last month, was today the shock omission from the squad of 12 Silver Ferns who will play the hosts as well as Australia and South Africa from January 13-20.

"I couldn't actually believe it, really," said Poi who made the Kiwis team for the Fast5 Netball World Series in Melbourne, Australia, in October. "I couldn't picture myself here so early."

The former Napier Girls' High School student, who has been likened to ex-Silver Fern Temepara George reportedly making a comeback to the competitive arena, said she intended to finish her studies at Victoria University in Wellington next year, depending on how her netball career pans out.

The midcourter said the Netball World Series Fast 5 had helped her integrate into the Silver Ferns' environment.

Poi had phoned her parents this morning to share the news but mother Roanne told her they wouldn't be able to support her as fans in England, after the cost of travelling to the Under-21 Netball World Cup in Botswana last year.


"My mum was like, 'Oh that's cool but it's a bit early notice so I don't think the flights will be cheap enough so I don't think we'll be able to support you there'," she said with a laugh but quite understanding of the fiscal pressures it can impose on her family.

Minister for Whānau Ora Peeni Henare presents Kimiora Poi with the Prime Minister's Scholarship at Commodore Hotel, Christchurch, in September. Photo/Photosport
Minister for Whānau Ora Peeni Henare presents Kimiora Poi with the Prime Minister's Scholarship at Commodore Hotel, Christchurch, in September. Photo/Photosport

Poi said adopting a nothing-to-lose mentality at the national camps was pivotal in moulding her template.

"It's just training hard, trying to do everything the coaches want me to do so I had nothing to lose and I think that sort of mentality got me to where I am."

Poi said the gut-busting training Taurua had put them through lately was what she had anticipated and it came to pass.

"It was one of the toughest trainings that I have ever done," she said of "backing up" required following a game and a training on a given day.

"Well, you expect that because playing for your country isn't supposed to be easy."

The squad members had survived the spin-dry cycle and walked away proud of their efforts collectively.

Poi joins experienced campaigners Laura Langman, Sam Sinclair and Gina Crampton, along with Whitney Souness who has earned a recall.

Taurua said: "This mid-court is an area we are continuing to develop and we felt that we needed to strengthen those combinations.

"We felt that both Kimiora and Whitney bring something different to the centre and wing attack positions – they bring a new set of skills to the role, are extremely fit and also show a confidence for such young athletes."

Poi jets back to Christchurch tomorrow morning but, after a final week of training, she will be back with the whanau in the Bay to celebrate Christmas and New Year.

"I think Christmas has come early for me," she said.

Hawke's Bay Netball's operations manager Tina Arlidge was thrilled.

"Kimiora is definitely the first player from Hawke's Bay to go all the way to the top since the formation of Hawke's Bay Netball in 2012 and possibly one of the most successful players in history. Jodi Tod, according to our records, was the first Hawke's Bay player to be named in the Silver Ferns squad in 2008-09 but didn't play any games, similarly Charlotte Kight was named in the squad in 2009 but was also not capped."

Arlidge pointed out her staff and the Bay's netball community would be having an early start when the Silver Ferns take on the Commonwealth Games champions English Roses at 7am on January 14.

"We will be watching with anticipation and excitement that she takes the court and become Silver Fern number 174. We would like to invite any community members to join us on this very special occasion in the netball community room at the Hawke's Bay Regional Sports Park in Hastings."

Her former NGHS and Hawke's Bay under-19 team coach, Charissa Barham, had never doubted Poi's ability to reach the top.

"She's a leader of herself and one of those players who is never happy with her own performance. Kimi always wants to do better and is a credit to her family who have always been so supportive," said Barham.

She, along with several of Poi's family members, recently contributed funds to a Taupo Sky Dive 21st present for Poi.

"Hopefully she is still allowed to do it before heading off for the tournament," Barham added.