Maria Tutaia – Silver Fern

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Maria outside the Auckland Museum at the end of a Fashion Shoot with SUGA magazine looking absolutely stunning!   

** At the beginning of the year I had approached Maria to see if I could IV her for the blog & the article was also going to be run in the Autumn issue of SUGA magazine.  The editor and a couple of the staff were keen to include her in a fashion spread so they did a fashion shoot with her down at the gardens between the domain and the Auckland Museum.  Massive thank you to my sister Leilani of Lani Says for providing the clothes and accessories for the shoot and my bestie Vanu Maoate for styling on the day and also doing Maria’s makeup.  I took some behind the scenes shots on the day (I wasn’t shooting the fashion spread) so some of the shots I’ve used at the end of this post are from this shoot.  Unfortunately, the Autumn issue of SUGA magazine didn’t end up going to print for various reasons but I was able to update the IV with her recently and she has let me run it on my blog instead and perfect timing because this weekend the Silver Ferns go into a 5 game test series against the Australian Diamonds.  HUGE thank you to Maria for being really patient with the whole process.  REALLY appreciate it sis x  – GO THE SILVER FERNS **

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Maria wears a black & gold Zara dress and a chain from Leilani.

Solonaima Maria Tutaia or Maria Tutaia as she is known to the New Zealand public made her debut as the Northern Mystics new captain at the beginning of the year, taking over from Temepara George who retired last year from the ANZ championship at the end of the season.

She is now gearing up once again as a Silver Fern for the Constellation cup series against the Australian Diamonds & the New World netball series against the Malawi Queens.

I’ve been a huge fan of Maria over the years and my team mates and I would always get a buzz when she’d come down to the Auckland club competition to watch her own team or some of her friends play.  It’s always inspiring to see the likes of Maria and Catherine Latu (both representing New Zealand as Silver Ferns) who are young Polynesian women playing sport and succeeding at an international level as well as bringing their own Poly flair to the game.  I’ll never forget watching the 2010 Commonwealth Games final between Australia and New Zealand, Maria shooting the winning goal and then Temepara George tackling Maria to the ground and rolling around the court hugging each other – GOLD!!   and such a Poly thing to do too haha!  Check out the vid after the drop.

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Maria & Temepara George hugging on the floor after Maria took the winning shot and the Silver Ferns won Gold at the Commonwealth Games.  Photo credit to Stuff.co.nz

On the netball court she plays both Goal Attack and Goal Shoot and is known for being able to pot those long-range goals and as a clutch shooter – being able to perform well under high-pressure situations.  When time is winding down and every shot counts, Maria is the one you want to have the ball and nail that last winning goal like she did in the Commonwealth Games final.  She’s also been able to show off her long range shooting skills in the new Fast5 game.  I was trying to explain to one of my mates in the States who she is and he was like oh so she’s like the Lebron of Netball?  I was like Ummm Yeah, that’s a good description actually lol!

Off court I’ve always been impressed with how approachable she is, never without a welcoming smile she’s really down to earth with a great sense of humour and a LOT of fun.    The highlight of New Years just gone was probably running into Maria at Hitch and dancing/laughing our heads off until the early hours of the morning!   On top of that she’s one of those beautiful girls who looks good ALL the time even after playing a full game of netball.  She really is gorgeous – a beautiful person inside and out!

A charity that is close to her heart is CanTeen – an organisation who supports young people between the ages of 13 – 24 yrs living with cancer.  Maria helps Canteen out in her own time spreading awareness about the disease and offering her support to teens living and dealing with the disease.  If you aren’t familiar with her from playing netball you may recognise her from being on nearly every supermarket check-out shelf as the face of CanTeen promoting the CanTeen bandanas.

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** Thanks again to Maria for taking the time out in between her Silver Ferns camps and training to answer some of my questions below and also as mentioned before take part in the shoot (photos below)**

Me:  One of the first times I saw you in person was at (my cousin) Juliannas 21st a few years ago and you wore heels and I was like OMG!! I love this girl – she’s taller than me (I’m 6ft1) and she’s comfortable wearing heels!  Between you and Catherine Latu I feel like you both helped me as a “Tall Girl” to feel OK about wearing heels and not worry about short people thinking I’m a freak haha!  Have you always felt comfortable with your height?

Maria:  No not really. It took me a while to accept it socially. Socially I mean by everything outside of netball. It’s only been about the last 5 or 6 years that I stopped worrying or second-guessing myself and my height. Accepting compliments from the public about how lucky I am to be tall and that I should embrace it and not be ashamed to stand tall, shoulders back and smile because I’ve been blessed with a gene people dream of having.

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Maria & Catherine Latu hosting Fresh TV  – Tall Girls FTW lol!

Me:  Are there people/role models/quotes that have empowered you to greatness on the netball court and in your personal life? and what did they do/say?

Maria:  Mum and dad of course! They’re the typical Samoan parents who are true believers of working hard for what you deserve. If it is meant to be, it’s up to me. With all my siblings, they’ve always tried to instil that within us everyday – whatever path in life we chose to take. No matter how bad you wanted it, thought about it, dreamt about it, it was only up to us to make it happen!!

{Maria has a tattoo of her parents names on the inside of her shooting arm – Fuisami (Dad) and Niukini (Mum) she has said on an interview about her tattoo on TV2’s show Fresh that the inspiration behind her tattoo is that it’s where the power of her shots come from.  Check out the video after the drop.  Maria is the youngest of 6 in her family. She has 3 older sisters and 2 older brothers}

Me:  What is your workout schedule like on a typical week?

Maria:  A typical week would consist of 3 heavy weights sessions, 2 speed sessions, 2 hardcore netball sessions (skill – court specific conditioning), 3 endurance and conditioning sessions and 1 day for recovery. We train 6 days a week and most days we double up.

Me: Do you practise your shooting every day?  How many shots would you put up in your own personal training session?  Do you still have a hoop to practise on at home?

Maria:  I practice at least 4 times a week. Sometimes more, depending on the workload. Each session varies.  Some days I shoot 200-400. Sometimes I can shoot up to 1000. It all varies.
I don’t have a hoop at home at the moment. My driveway has turned into my niece’s playground and Aunty Naima’s priorities aren’t important to them at the moment.

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Maria putting up the long shots during practise.

Me:  Like most sports you have to be mentally tough as well as physically tough to be able to compete at the level you are at – is it hard to shake off a loss?  how do you come back to a winning state of mind after a loss?  For example the game where you missed the last shot and then Oz came back to win it, I read in the Herald that it was when you all came back to train as a team that you were all able to just close that chapter and move on together.
I have so much respect for the shooters in netball games because you must have to have the ability to just zone everyone and everything out and just shoot – probably why I preferred Defense (I’m distracted easily lol)

Maria: Of course mental toughness wins games. In anything you do in life, without this trait, succeeding isn’t really an option. But yes of course, being a shooter in a game of netball is the hardest position on court. Totally no disrespect to mid courter’s and defender’s but as a shooter you’re the one that keeps the scoreboard ticking. You’re the one that when your teammates have worked so hard to get a turn over ball, they count on you to put the ball through the hoop. When it’s a draw and there’s 5 seconds left, ball in hand, the nation watching, the only thing that stands between your team winning and losing is YOU, the ball and that hoop. Of course in the life of sport, being mentally tough, not everything always goes your way. No athlete in this world can say they have never experienced the bad. I surely can’t!!  For me, the only way I have bounced back from the ugliness is to know how it happened, why it happened, and what I am going to do about it. It’s hard because especially in a team sport, there’s a lot you have to factor in. Everybody needs to be on the same wave length and if they’re not, it can hinder decisions you make even though you may think it’s right at the time.
For me accepting and learning from my mistakes has helped me move on and knowing that if this situation were to arise again, I’d know what to do. It’s interesting. You learn a lot about yourself during the process too. You’ll be surprised.

Me:  You had quite a hard season as captain of the Mystics with the team finishing bottom of the ANZ Championship ladder – is there anything you can pinpoint as to why the team struggled this season?

Maria:  Yes this year was very hard. I can pinpoint a lot of things that went wrong. But in a nut shell we started with a great team on paper. Then slowly as the season went by we lost key players, with massive experience, in key positions that we weren’t able to substitute personale with the same level. Then again I’m always trying to stay positive and on a whole, a massive “thumbs up” to our young 1s who rose to the challenge of filling in boots of Anna Harrison, Julie, Corletto, Jess Moulds and co to Malia Paseka, Erikana Pederson, Annie Rassmussen, Jess Bourke and Elisapeta Toeava.  I had the privilege of watching these girls kick butt week in and out and grow into the future Mystic Superstar they will all become!

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Maria shooting for the Northern Mystics in an ANZ championship game.  Photo credits to Zimbio.co.nz

Me:  Highlight of the season?

Maria:  Highlight of the season would definitely be getting all our bucks on and watching them grow and play to their full potential. These kids surprised me every week.

Me:  Lowlight of the season?

Maria:  Lowlight would have to be losing crucial players weekly through injury.

Me:  Lessons learned as a captain? and as a player?

Maria:  My lessons learned as a captain is that the best way to lead is to just play well. Know your role and execute the game plan in your area of court. If you do that right, your team mates thrive off that and will follow.  Even though it was a tough year as captain, i learnt a lot about myself and if I am privileged enough to be captain again, I would do things a lot differently!

Me:  What do you all do in between seasons?

Maria:  In between seasons we dont have a lot of downtime.  I like to get away and freshen up.  Anywhere in Europe is perfect!

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Me:  Congratulations on making the Silver Ferms again 🙂  You’ve just come out of Silver Ferns camp – do you still have a tight training schedule that you have to stick to personally and as a team?

Maria:  Yes always!  Training is key. Maintaining and topping up everyday is crucial.  As an individual and as a team player.

Me:  Trans-tasman clashes are always biggies – who would you say has been your fiercest rival in terms of defenders you’ve come up against?

Maria:  Defenders I would have to say Sonia Mkoloma (English International netball player). She’s very unpredictable. Very rangey and has amazing skills

Me:  I know a lot of the rugby/league boys get into the “zone” listening to music to get them going – are there any tracks in particular that you have that you listen to before a game or that hype you up/get you into the zone?

Maria: haha I’m a total gangster. I love my old school rap jams. My game day playlist consists of Tupac, Biggie, Snoop Dog, Nas, Jay-Z, Master P etc. I won’t name all of them. I might scare the reader’s away (Laughs)

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Maria being interviewed by TV3

Me:  Being a public figure and “famous” do you ever find it difficult having certain expectations put on you by the public because of who you are?  How do you deal with it? 

Maria:  In some occasions yes. Not all the time.  When I am out I don’t really think about acting proper or worrying about what people will think if I do this or that.  People love you for who you are.  Your uniqueness.  Why you are so different.  I try to be myself as much as I can and not think about what people want me to be or expect me to be.

 Me:  Outside of netball you’re also the face of Canteen.  I was really touched that you attended a friend of mines funeral (Amanda Beaton), her Mum Tania said you were awesome and had become good friends with Amanda.

How did you get involved with Canteen?  Did they approach you or had you approached them or was it something your agent suggested? 

Maria:  Yes my amaaaazing manager Sara Tetro (Owner of Model casting agency 62 Models Management and host of the TV3 reality show New Zealands Next Top Model) had suggested it to me.  I jumped at the idea as I am a huge supporter of Canteen and all Cancer charities all over the world. It’s a bond that I keep close to my heart. Through Canteen I have met the bravest people in the world who have the most beautiful smiles, die hard personalities and the funniest humour you will ever come across. I truly do believe that God gives his hardest battles to his strongest soldiers!

Amen sis!  Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to do this and I wish you all the best in your upcoming test series.  

** And now check out some of my fave shots of Maria taken behind the scenes of her fashion shoot with SUGA magazine.  My friend Vanu did her makeup and she said she used thin lizzy mineral foundation, napoleon perdis eyeshadow for her eyes and a revlon nude with gloss for her lips **

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Apricot dress – BooHoo.co.nz from Leilani’s wardrobe

White chucks & accessories – Marias own

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Pink dress – ASOS from Leilani’s wardrobe

Black booties – Payless Harlem (mine btw that Lani brought me back from NY when she was living there)

For more behind the scenes photos from Marias photo shoot click here

Maria and the Silver Ferns start their 5 series clash this Saturday at the SIT Zero Fees Velodrome in Invercargill this Sunday the 15th of September.

For all you Auckland supporters – they play at Vector Arena on Thursday the 19th.  The rest of their test series games will take place in Australia.

Make sure you get along and show your support.  Tickets available here http://www.ticketmaster.co.nz/Silver-Ferns-tickets/artist/1132861

Video Roll:

Commonwealth Games final and Marias winning shot

Maria talks about her tattoo

Maria – My world profile on Fresh TV 

Maria & Catherine Latu host Fresh TV 

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