Two Palmerston North born and raised hockey players have been awarded Queen's Birthday Honours for their service to hockey, both being made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

Emily Gaddum (nee Naylor) and Kayla Whitelock (nee Sharland) have a combined 530 caps for the Black Sticks Women's team including teaming up for the 2012 London Games where Gaddum and Whitelock led the side to an incredible fourth-place finish.

Kayla Whitelock, owner of Palmerston North F45 gym, planned a comeback this year to attend the Tokyo Olympics.

She played for New Zealand in four Olympic Games: Athens 2004, Beijing 2008, London 2012 and Rio 2016.

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Whitelock, who is married to retired Crusaders rugby player George Whitelock has been playing hockey since she was 7.

Whitelock has been involved with coaching and coached up and coming and future Black Sticks in Kane Russell, David Brydon and Dylan Thomas.

Recently she has been coaching alongside her sister Verity Sharland at Palmerston North Girls' High School, where they guided the side for two Federation Cup appearances.

"It has been great to be involved in helping out the next generation," she said.

"It's pretty special and was a bit of a surprise and shock. I'm honoured to receive it. I think it's great for hockey, for players in the community to see our sport recognised".

Retired Black Stick Emily Gaddum, of Havelock North, with dog Franky.
Retired Black Stick Emily Gaddum, of Havelock North, with dog Franky.

In 2019 Gaddum took on the role of executive officer for the Hockey Foundation.

During her playing career, Gaddum played 274 games for the national side and retired as the most capped Black Sticks Women's player in history.

Gaddum played in three Olympic Games (Athens 2004, Beijing 2008, London 2012) before retiring and starting a family prior to the 2016 Rio Games.

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She said it was an incredible honour and to be recognised alongside her great mate Kayla made it extra special.

She lives in Hastings.

- Compiled with help from Planet Hockey Mag