New Zealand's most-capped women's player has retired from international hockey.

Defender Emily Gaddum (nee Naylor) played 274 internationals from her debut in 2004. She made herself unavailable for the Rio Olympic Games as her first child is due in January.

Gaddum competed at three Olympic and Commonwealth Games, where New Zealand won a silver (Delhi, 2010) and bronze (Glasgow, 2014) medal.

"It was definitely a tough decision but I feel the time is right now to look ahead to the next challenge," Gaddum, 30, said. "I'm pretty comfortable in finishing after a good career, my last game was against Australia in Darwin where we won the final so that was a nice way to go out."


Gaddum played under three national coaches, Ian Rutledge, Kevin Towns and Mark Hager and had high praise for them all.

"Mark, in particular, has been a huge part of my career on a personal level. He really changed the game for us in creating an up tempo attacking style."

Gaddum was 18 when she made her international debut and her career has run parallel with good friend, and fellow former Palmerston North student Kayla Whitelock.

"Playing for New Zealand was always a dream so to debut that young and have the privilege to wear the shirt so many times is unbelievable," Gaddum said.

Gaddum will remain involved in hockey as player and coach at local level. She is working for Hawkes Bay Hockey and works for the Hawkes Bay Festival of Hockey, which is set for its fourth year in April.

"Emily showed our group a professionalism required to play on the international stage and has achieved a great deal throughout her hockey career," Hager said.

"She will be missed and will go down as one of New Zealand's best ever defenders."