As women's hockey captain Stacey Michelsen prepares to lead a 250 strong contingent of New Zealand team members into the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games Closing Ceremony tonight, the New Zealand Team reflects on an outstanding games.
The New Zealand Team has finished Gold Coast 2018 with its highest ever away games result.
The team won 46 medals including 15 gold medals, 16 silver and 15 bronze medals.
The total exceeds the previous best total of 45, won at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014 and in Manchester 2002.
The Gold Coast gold medal tally ranks as New Zealand's second highest after 17 in Auckland 1990, and making it our largest at any away games.
New Zealand’s 150th gold and 650th medals were won during the games by Sophie Pascoe and the New Zealand women's basketball team respectively.
Pascoe, who led the team into the games also became the third consecutive flag bearer to win double gold after carrying the New Zealand flag.
Above: SIlver and gold medallists Dame Valerie Adams, Sophie Pascoe and Julia Ratcliffe
Rob Waddell said he couldn’t speak more highly of the New Zealand Team.
“It's been an absolute privilege to be part of this team. The athlete performances have been outstanding, but more than that, they have each represented New Zealand with honour.
"The New Zealand team has inspired us all and have brought to life what it means to be a New Zealand athlete.”
“The athletes have enjoyed the incredible games, tough competition and fantastic Team Commonwealth environment. I know they also appreciated the support of the fantastic crowds here on the Gold Coast.”
Sophie Pascoe spoke to the team at an informal function tonight in the Gold Coast village, praising the team environment and performance culture, and urging athletes to continue to strive for excellence.
"The family culture that we have created around the New Zealand hub has felt like a home away from home,' she said.
"I hope each one of you have taken something out of these games to contribute to your future endeavours whether that be wearing the silver fern again, or life outside of sport. Challenge yourself every day!"
New Zealand Olympic Committee CEO Kereyn Smith commended not just the athletes, but the wider New Zealand Team.
“I thank the New Zealand athletes for their incredible results, commitment to performance and they way they represented New Zealand on the world stage.
"From the athletes to coaches, to Rob and the support teams, I acknowledge the contribution they have all made to New Zealand and Commonwealth sport.”
There were a wide variety of significant performances across the team.
The final day of the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast saw New Zealand's men's and women's sevens teams each secure gold medals.
Joelle King continued her winning streak with gold in the women's doubles after already making New Zealand history winning the first ever individual squash gold medal earlier in the games.
Above: Joelle King and Amanda Landers-Murphy winning gold in the women's squash doubles
Rugby Sevens women and beach volleyball had had their Commonwealth debuts, with a bronze on the beach seeing both new sports produce medals for New Zealand.
Dame Valerie Adams claimed her fifth Commonwealth Games Medal on day nine of competition with silver in the shot put adding to her silver at her first games in Manchester in 2002 and gold medals in Melbourne, Delhi and Glasgow.
Jo Edwards won her third Commonwealth Games gold medal in lawn bowls at her fourth Commonwealth Games.
The women's hockey team finally made the top of the podium, with New Zealand's first hockey gold medal in any major games.
David Nyika won the gold medal in the heavyweight boxing on the day ten of the Gold Coast games to go with his light heavyweight gold medal from Glasgow 2014.
Tasmyn Benny won New Zealand’s first medal in women’s boxing with a bronze in the 48kg class.
“It’s incredibly difficult to single out performances and I really extend by personal congratulations and thanks to the entire team,” concluded Waddell.
"Any games brings its share of heartache and I would also like to acknowledge those athletes who left their hearts on the field of play, but weren't able to come home with the results they wanted."
New Zealand's medal tally puts Gold Coast in third for a Commonwealth medal tally behind 58 in Auckland in 1990 and 54 also in Auckland in 1950 in addition to it being their best away from home games.
SPORT WITH A SOCIAL CONSCIENCE
Inclusion, diversity and the role of sport in society has been reflected throughout the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and New Zealand Olympic Committee CEO Kereyn Smith says that’s good for New Zealand.
For the first time, there was an equal number of men’s and women’s medal events on the Commonwealth Games sport programme.
“This means the games is providing more opportunities for female athletes to be presented as strong role models for young New Zealand girls,” said Smith.
Outstanding para athlete Sophie Pascoe was named as flag bearer, highlighting the inclusion of para athletes on the Commonwealth Games programme. Gold Coast’s para programme was the largest in Commonwealth history.
Above: Yothu Yindi and The Treaty Project perform during the Closing Ceremony
The first ever Commonwealth Games Reconciliation Action Plan provided an opportunity for the tangatawhenua of Aotearoa, and the New Zealand Team to connect with and recognise the Yugambeh people, the traditional custodians of the land on the Gold Coast, throughout the games. Indigenous people from around the Commonwealth were also formally welcomed.
The Commonwealth Games first transgender athlete, New Zealand’s Laurel Hubbard received a warm welcome into the stadium from New Zealand and Australian crowds alike. While Hubbard went on to sustain significant elbow injury, her performance provided an opportunity for the games, the public, and the New Zealand Team to welcome all eligible athletes to the games.
Overall, more countries than ever before have won Commonwealth Games medals, showing growth in sport throughout the Commonwealth. A total of 43 nations took home medals, five more nations than the 37 that were able to top the podium at Glasgow 2014.
“It’s a game of firsts for New Zealand and the wider Commonwealth Games,” said Smith.
Finally Smith thanked the Gold Coast Organising Committee.
“These have been an absolutely fantastic games that took place in world class venues.We thank the organisers and the volunteers that have really made these games.
"The Commonwealth Games are in a great place and we are looking forward to Birmingham 2022."
The New Zealand Team returns to New Zealand on Monday 16th April on a charter flight arriving in Auckland at 1900h.