Jane Tehira (Photo: Scratched)

Scratched: Jane Tehira was New Zealand’s original sporting triple-threat

New Zealand has had a handful of double internationals, athletes who’ve represented the country in two different sports. For a few years in the 1950s, Jane Tehira represented New Zealand in three.

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When Jane Tehira watches her great-grandchildren play sport, she sees a competitiveness that’s been passed down through the generations. It’s the same competitiveness she had in spades as a young woman in the 1950s, when she spent every spare moment playing any sport available. That in itself isn’t so unusual. What makes Jane Tehira special is the fact she was good enough to represent New Zealand in three of them.

A rare triple international, Tehira juggled playing international basketball, hockey and softball alongside work and family commitments. The pioneer of women’s sport in New Zealand is characteristically modest about the scale of her achievements: “It was just something to do, I suppose,” she says. “Something to do other than just sit at home.” 

As a Māori woman playing sport in the 1950s, Tehira never got the recognition being a triple-international athlete deserves. But today as much as ever, the story of her achievements and dedication to sport should serve as an inspiration, and a reminder of why we play.

Scratched: Aotearoa’s Lost Sporting Legends is made with the support of NZ On Air. 




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