67 | Farah Palmer Greatest Kiwi of All Time 2023

67 | Farah Palmer Greatest Kiwi of All Time 2023

Greatest Kiwi Of All Time: No. 67 - Farah Palmer (Up 26 from 93 from last year)

Who is the most successful captain in New Zealand sport?  We think, with 35 test wins and only one loss, the answer - without a shadow of a doubt - is Dr Farrah Palmer.

Born and raised in the King Country, Farah Palmer loved sport.  She played it all.  Netball, athletics, swimming, tennis, cross-country.  However it wasn’t until university that she started regularly playing rugby.  She joined the University club in Dunedin and later that year played her first game for Otago, initially as a prop, then into the position we would all come to know her for - hooker.

Fast-forward four years.  Her test debut.  Black Ferns vs. Australia in Sydney.  Won 28-5.  The next year.  Her first game as Black Ferns captain vs. England.  Won 67-nil.  

And so would be the pattern game… after game.  By the time of the 1998 World Cup, the Black Ferns were hot favourites.  They wouldn’t disappoint.  They won that too.

Meanwhile, Palmer kept studying.  She completed her PhD in the year 2000 and moved to Palmerston North to work in sports management at Massey University.  She’d switch clubs to play for Manawatu and win another World Cup in 2002.

In 2005 she was awarded the IRB International Women’s Personality of the Year.  She would once again captain the Black Ferns to a World Cup win in 2006.  That makes it three under the belt.

Introduced into the IRB Rugby Hall of Fame in 2014, Farah Palmer is not just one of the best women’s rugby players to walk the planet, she’s one of the best rugby players full stop.  And one of the best sporting leaders for that matter too.  

Since retiring from playing, Farah has concentrated on supporting her sport - she’s been on the NZRU and Sport New Zealand board.  In her role at Massey, she’s also passionate about Maori research and student success.

With a win record like her’s, how could we leave Dr Farrah Palmer off the list of Today FM’s Greatest Kiwis of All Time.