Tara Turner flourishing in Northland Kauri set-up

GettyImages 1411757529

Turner was awarded the scholarship, named after the late Silver Ferns World champion, in 2020 having missed out when she applied in 2019. 

The Tania Dalton Foundation aims to award 12 scholarships each year. The Scholarships support the recipients over a three-year period providing financial assistance, one-on-one mentoring support and personal development opportunities.

“It’s had a profound impact on me,” Turner said. 

“I’m a shy person so it’s helped boost my confidence in public speaking. The life lessons around diet, training, and teamwork have been massive. 

“I’m very grateful to have had Suzy McAsey as a mentor. She’s an ex New Zealand volleyball player and a great person. It’s fair to say that I’m a different person now.”

The growth in self-belief has seen the 18 year-old debut for Northland in the Farah Palmer Cup this year. In her first match against Tasman she played first five-eighth and scored a try in a 29-10 victory. Unfortunately, Northland was beaten 10-39 by Otago last Saturday, but Turner covered fullback.

“That first game was pretty scary, I’m used to playing halfback. It wasn’t too bad for a first go. I got a few runs which I enjoyed. I like getting out on the edge and running a bit.

“It was pretty cool scoring a try. In fact I was bloody stoked.” 

Turner grew up in a family of nine in Whangārei. She announced herself as an athlete of repute in touch. She started playing when she was six and was a member of the New Zealand U16 team aged 13.

“It’s pretty crazy having that many people around but it keeps you busy. We didn’t need to find a team to play touch, we just played full games in the backyard.

“Having such a big family taught me how to grow up around different personalities. You can’t be selfish because in a family that size you need to share to get by.


“I was picked for a New Zealand open trial in 2020, but unfortunately Covid meant that didn’t happen. There is a Touch Blacks trial in October which I hope to be involved with.

“I play Middle. My footwork and vision are pretty good.”


A number of Black Ferns like Suzy Shortland, Dianne Kahura and Vanessa Cootes were Touch Blacks. Turner is a national champion in the code. In 2019, aged 15, she captained Te Tai Tokerau (Northland) to win the National U21 title

“It went to a sudden-death drop off, that is the first team that scores wins. If after two minutes nobody has scored each team has to sacrifice a player. It got down to three on three which is as low as it can go. It took ages to resolve, but there was no way I was leaving the field.” 

Turner got her first taste of rugby when she was 14 at the behest of Peter Nock (father of Māori All Blacks halfback Sam Nock). She was a standout sevens player at Whangārei Girls’ High School making a Condor Sevens tournament team in 2015 and the Northland U18 team.

Hora Hora celebrated their centenary in 2022 and Turner helped the club win their 19th Rana Paraha Trophy. 

“That was my first time playing women’s rugby and I enjoyed the environment a lot. The older girls made me feel comfortable and confident to have a crack.

“We won every game but I didn't play the final. My nana passed away. I was proud that we won for her and all the girls that have been before us.”

This weekend, Northland hosts Hawke’s Bay at Semenoff Stadium in Farah Palmer Cup action. Hawke’s Bay defeated North Harbour 32-5 in the previous round.