Here’s all 13 episodes so far from our award winning video series celebrating New Zealand sporting heroes who never got their due, but whose legacies deserve to be in lights.
Lee Ralph, the skateboarder who vanished
In the late 1980s, New Zealand skateboarder Lee Ralph had the world at his feet. But right when he seemed poised to join the sport’s elite, he was kicked out of the US – and out of the limelight for good.
Jane Tehira, the triple international
New Zealand has had a handful of double internationals, athletes who’ve represented the country in two different sports. In the 1950s, Jane Tehira represented New Zealand in three – basketball, softball and hockey.
Precious McKenzie’s last gold medal
From being barred from weightlifting competitions in apartheid-era South Africa to being embraced by his adopted home country New Zealand, Precious McKenzie’s is a story of determination – and of the importance of knowing your worth.
Angela Walker’s forgotten gymnastics gold
The star of the 1990 Commonwealth Games was a young New Zealand gymnast – but Nikki Jenkins wasn’t our only gymnastic champion that year. This is the story of Angela Walker, New Zealand’s forgotten gold medalist.
Tuariki Delamere’s somersault long jump
In the 1970s, a young New Zealand athlete introduced the world to a radical new long jump technique. In another timeline, Tuariki Delamere’s name could be as synonymous with the long jump as Dick Fosbury is with the high jump. But while the Fosbury Flop has long since been universally adopted, the potential of the Delamere Flip remains one of sport’s great what-ifs.
Meda McKenzie vs the Cook Strait
One morning in 1978, 15-year-old Meda McKenzie got into the water off the coast of Wellington and started swimming. Just over 12 hours later, she arrived in the South Island. Years later, spurred on by a male swimmer who said it couldn’t be done, she crossed the Cook Strait again – then immediately turned around and swam the whole way back.
Ruia Morrison: An unlikely tennis journey from Rotorua to Wimbledon
By age 20, Ruia Morrison was a national singles champion and, thanks to the support of the wider Māori community, on a plane to Wimbledon for the 1957 grand slam tournament. But despite being considered one of the best in the world at the time, and a successful career spanning two decades, Morrison has remained largely unknown in her home country. Still living in Rotorua and a matriarch of Māori tennis, Ruia Morrison is well and truly a lost sporting legend of Aotearoa.
Anne Audain: The story of New Zealand’s most successful road runner
Anne Audain has won more races than she’s lost. In fact, of the 112 road races that Audain ran in America, she won 75. And in the process, earned Nike and Pepsi endorsements, and hundreds of thousands of dollars as a professional middle distance runner.
Brett Fairweather: Meet the creator of Jump Jam
Every New Zealander under the age of 30 knows at least one Jump Jam song. ‘Witch Doctor’, ‘Coconut’, ‘Kotahitanga’ – they’re instantly recognisable, with the recognition most often accompanied by an involuntary dance move. Less readily recognised is the creator and choreographer of those dance moves, former aerobics champion Brett Fairweather.
Chunli Li: Undefeated in New Zealand table tennis at 57
Chunli Li moved to New Zealand in 1987 to retire from table tennis, aged 25. Instead, she was asked to keep playing and represented New Zealand at four Olympic Games and at the 2002 Commonwealth Games won an unprecedented four medals, aged 40.
Barbara Cox: The matriarch of New Zealand football
New Zealand’s first women’s football team wasn’t formed until 1975. Barbara Cox was the captain, and led the team’s fundraising efforts which included selling kisses at the local bar for 20 cents. New Zealand has come a long way in its treatment of female athletes since then – but only thanks to those like Barbara Cox, who refused to put up with double standards long ago.
Joeli Vidiri: The greatest All Black that never was
In 1996, Joeli Vidiri was set to be the star of New Zealand rugby alongside his good friend Jonah Lomu. But deteriorating kidneys led to his early retirement from the sport, aged just 27.
Scratched: Aotearoa’s Lost Sporting Legends is made with the support of NZ On Air.
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