Who loves who the most? The best performances by a New Zealand team were canvassed by the Herald after the wonderful world test championship win by the Black Caps.
Kane Williamson's team is also hugely liked and admired, which leads to another list.
Which of our national teams was closest to the nation's heart? Who did Kiwi sports fans love the most?
Here, in ascending order is my list.
6. THE 1982 ALL WHITES
Kiwis still called the game soccer, and All White Adrian Elrick would recall how at school the most talented kids chose rugby, and football got the rest, when the All White started their astonishing run to the World Cup in Spain. The team had everything, hardmen like captain Steve Sumner and former bikie Grant Turner, tireless workers like Elrick and Keith "Buzzer" Mackay, and fresh faced kids like Ricki Herbert. In a golden 12 months they beat Australia, Saudi Arabia, and China to get to Spain. Going to Mt Smart to see them play was to get a taste of the fervour football engenders at club games in Britain.
Focus of affection: Coach John Adshead, who in 1982 in the annual Readers Digest poll for most trusted New Zealanders, ran a close second to Sir Edmund Hillary. A genuinely lovely, grounded, guy, he used to joke that second to Sir Edmund wasn't bad for a lad from Lancashire.
5.THE 1987 ALL BLACKS
When the All Blacks played the opening game of the 1987 World Cup against Italy, Eden Park was less than half full. Just a month later getting tickets for the final against France were as hard as finding a unicorn. Thanks to some brilliant rugby, and the blossoming of two young superstars in John Kirwan and Michael Jones, the side basically erased the bitter taste of the hugely divisive 1981 Springbok tour, and the disruptive Cavaliers tour to South Africa in 1986.
Focus of affection: Captain David Kirk, tagged every New Zealand mother's dream son-in-law. A cheery, smiling, super bright doctor, what was not to love? Then he unified the country when he pulled Andy Dalton, an organiser of the Cavaliers, who had been an injured non-playing skipper in '87, in for a hug when the Cup was awarded. Ten years later Kirk told me, "On the spur of the moment I grabbed him by the front of the tracksuit top he was wearing and physically pulled him across to me. He was a very humble guy. I could tell he wasn't going to come over unless I dragged him."
4. TEAM NEW ZEALAND 1995
"The America's Cup is now New Zealand's Cup," as PJ Montgomery timelessly shouted in San Diego. Winning the Auld Mug for the first time galvanised the country. Oddly the outpouring of affection that greeted the team when they returned home for a triumphant tour of the cities has almost been forgotten, soured by the vicious reaction to Russell Coutts and Brad Butterworth later being lured away by mountains of Swiss money. But at the first parade in Auckland 350,000 people turned out, some in the crowd were crying, and the love fest continued in Wellington and Christchurch. In hindsight it may have been a little like a one night stand, but the intensity of feelings in '95 was off the scale.
Focus of affection: Sir Peter Blake, the leader of the campaign, was already a hero in the Hillary mould after his round the world yachting triumphs. How popular was he? He'd taken to wearing a pair of red socks, given to him by wife Pippa, for luck, when he was on board Black Magic controlling the mainsheet traveller. Needing more funds for the campaign, Team New Zealand offered lucky red socks for sale, and Kiwis, including Prime Minister Jim Bolger, bought enough of them to buy a new mainsail for the boat.
3. THE 2019 SILVER FERNS
New Zealand netball had its annus horribilis in 2018, when the Ferns finished a mediocre fourth at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast. The nadir? Losing 57-53 in pool play to Malawi, which underscored the fact the whole year had been a disaster. New Zealand Netball came to its senses and appointed Noeline Taurua head coach. After 12 months in the job she took the Ferns to the final of the world championships in Liverpool where they beat (pause for drum roll) the Australians, 52-51. Players Taurua called "the fossils" like Casey Kopua, Laura Langman and Maria Folau, led the way for a victory that satisfied every Kiwi sports fan.
Focus of affection: Coach Taurua, as open and warm a personality as any sport in this country has ever seen. As always her reaction after what was a massive upset in Liverpool was free of public relations nonsense. "It's a weird feeling. I'm absolutely ecstatic, but actually quite speechless."
2. THE 2011 ALL BLACKS
It had been a long, long time between drinks, but when the nerve shredding final of the 2011 Rugby World Cup was finally over, and the All Blacks had won 8-7, Kiwis could breathe happily again. The final had its own special hero in Stephen Donald, who kicked the winning penalty goal despite the embarrassment of a week of whitebaiting with mates meaning his jersey, designed for Dan Carter, had the unfortunate habit of riding up to reveal a bit of midriff.
Focus of affection: Donald, a humble, decent bloke, was quite rightly embraced after the final, but when Kiwis discovered that captain Richie McCaw had played the tournament on a broken right foot, the skipper was elevated to the special place we reserve for uncomplaining heroes.
1. THE 2021 BLACK CAPS
How could anyone not love the current Black Caps? Whether it's a battle scarred warrior like Ross Taylor hitting the winning runs, or BJ Watling playing on with a dislocated finger, or Kyle Jamieson showing he's already a world class player, there were fairytale elements to the world championship triumph. But most of all, this win was the culmination of a culture shift so huge it gave the lie to every grumpy guts that believes you can't be a winning side without sharp edges and a truculent attitude. How fantastic that a New Zealand team, acknowledged as the most sportsmanlike in world cricket, are now the world champions.
Focus of affection: Kane Williamson. You could say the whole team, but captain Williamson epitomises everything you'd like to believe a Kiwi sports person is, from a lack of ego to a commitment to the team. Better still, you know that whatever praise is lavished on him, he's not going to change.