Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 46, September 2002


(Contributed by Ruth Aitken)

My Grandfather, Ernest Philip (EP) Fathers was born in 1875 at Thames. He came to Paeroa to run a coach business, with Maurice Crimmins, in the gold mining days. EP married Emma Ellina Allen (from Christchurch) in St Paul's Church, Paeroa in 1901. He sold his partnership and bought the Caledonian Hotel in Napier in 1912. After a few years they moved back to Paeroa and bought a farm at Rotokohu Road, from the Thorp family.

My father, Phil, was born in 1927, the year that EP and Emma bought and moved into "The Commercial Hotel" in Paeroa, which was later changed to "Father's Hotel". It is still known as this, even though it no longer has any connection with the family. Phil Fathers attended Central School and then Kings College. He then returned to Paeroa and became an apprentice carpenter with Lee Brothers, before striking out on his own as a builder.

My mother, Dorothy Fisher, was born in Thames in 1931, daughter of Ronald Fisher and Agnes Fisher (nee Thompson), farmers in Netherton (Fishers Road). Dorothy attended Netherton Primary School and Ngatea District High School.

Dorothy and Phil were married on 17 May 1952, also at St Paul's Church in Paeroa. They had three children - Paula, born 1953, Ruth 1956, and Anthony 1959. As the family of a builder, frequent shifts and house renovations were the order of the day. During my time in Paeroa, I have lived in houses in Miller Avenue, Towers Street, Puke Road and finally Rotokohu Road.

All three Fathers' children were educated at Miller Avenue and Paeroa College before heading off to University, Paula to Waikato for a Batchelor of Education, Anthony to Palmerston North for a Batchelor of Agricultural Science and I moved to Auckland in 1974 to study Physical Education at Secondary Teachers' College, while at the same time completing a Batchelor of Arts and then a Master of Arts in English at Auckland University.

At the end of University, (December 1979) I married Grant Aitken (from Glenfield) - also at St Paul's in Paeroa - then taught English at Takapuna Grammar School from 1980 - 1990, with a year off in 1987 to teach in England.

My netball started at about age 10 at Miller Avenue School and my first taste of Representative netball came in Form 2, when I made the Paeroa C "reps"!! (Hardly an auspicious start!!) However a year in Paeroa College 3A, with the coaching of Brenda Weedon, I found my feet and in the 4th Form made the Paeroa College Senior A team with Mrs Doreen Royal as coach. The following year my mother, Dorothy Fathers, took over the coaching role and I was coached by her for the rest of my College days. In the 5th Form I was lucky enough to make the Thames Valley Senior team to go to National Championships. I represented Thames Valley in 1971, 1972 and 1973.

In 1974, I moved to Auckland and represented Auckland Under 21's, then the following year made the Auckland Senior team. A shift in accommodation at the end of that year saw my moving to North Shore and playing my netball on the other side of the bridge. It also saw a change of position - up until this time I had been a Goal Defender and now I became a Goal Attack! I represented North Shore at Nationals from 1976 - 1989, being Captain for seven years. In 1979 I was chosen for the NZ Netball team that were equal winners of the World Championships that were held in Trinidad and Tobago.

In April 1991, our first son, Michael, was born and in 1993 our second son, Jamie, was born.

With my pregnancy in 1990, I moved into the coaching role (I had only coached at College level, previously) and in 1991 first coached North Harbour to Runners up at Nationals. I coached North Harbour for two years and Shore Rovers in the National Club League for one year before moving back to Paeroa at the end of 1984, with my family, for a change of lifestyle.

My husband, Grant, was appointed Deputy Principal at Paeroa College and we bought Mum and Dad's 30 acres in Rotokohu Road. They built a cottage on the property and now share their time between Paeroa during the week (to conveniently look after our children after school!) and their beach house in Hahei at the weekends.

With my move back to Paeroa, I took over coaching the Thames Valley Netball Team for the next three years (winning third grade), as well as coaching at Paeroa College (to victory at an International Tournament for Schools in Bali and third place at the NZ Secondary School Championships).

When the Coca Cola Cup League was started in 1998, I was appointed the inaugural coach of the Counties Manukau Thames Valley (CMTV) Cometz franchise team. I continued for a further three years with this team. In July 1998, I was also appointed as coach to the Waikato NPC team. After winning the National Championship for two years, I was also appointed as Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic Coach in the Coca Cola Cup, making it through to third place.

At the end of 2000, I was appointed the NZA coach (the next team down from the Silver Ferns). During my year with them, we were successful in beating England twice, winning a tournament in Singapore against Wales, Asian All Stars, and the South Australian Institute of Sport team, and winning all our matches in Newcastle against the top Commonwealth Bank Trophy teams in Australia.

In December 2001 I was appointed as Vodaphone Silver Ferns Coach. My first tour was to the hot-spot of Jamaica where we won the series 2 - 1 after some heated netball and amid great media interest!

The next fixture I will be involved with is the Fisher and Paykel series against Barbados in late June/early July. At the end of July the team heads off to Manchester to the Commonwealth Games. A huge challenge, but one that I can't wait for!


Born Paeroa 1956

Educated at:

Miller Avenue


Paeroa College


Auckland University/Teachers College


Taught English at:

Takapuna Grammar


Seldon School, England


Paeroa College


Two sons, Michael 11, Jamie 8

Husband, Grant is Deputy Principal at Paeroa College

Played Netball for:

Thames Valley


Auckland U21




North Harbour


New Zealand




North Harbour


Shore Rovers


Thames Valley


CMTV Cometz




Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic




Vodaphone Silver Fern

from December 2001


1958 The last NZ Tournament was played under nine aside rules.

1967 The last World Basketball Championships were held. Thereafter the name was changed to Netball.

1971 The term Referee became Umpire.