For many in the older generation, Padder Tennis conjures cherished memories of sunny days and afternoons spent on the school playground courts, the satisfying whack of wooden and plastic Padder bats, and the joy of friendly competition with mates. It was a time when this simple yet captivating game brought students together, creating enduring bonds and countless smiles.
Today, the echoes of those nostalgic memories are being heard once again. Padder Tennis is making a triumphant return to New Zealand schools, introducing a new generation to its magic. With its emphasis on teamwork, resilience, honesty, leadership and fun, the iconic Kiwi game is rekindling the same spirit that once made it a beloved tradition. As Padder Tennis finds its way back into school playgrounds, it's not just a revival; it's a celebration of our enduring Kiwi sporting heritage.
Reviving a Kiwi Tradition
The History of Padder Tennis in New Zealand
Padder Tennis, a school playground sport deeply rooted in the cultural fabric of New Zealand, has a history that spans generations. With its unique blend of athleticism, camaraderie, and accessibility, Padder Tennis has left an indelible mark on the hearts of Kiwis across the country.
Originating in New Zealand in the mid-20th century, Padder Tennis quickly captured the imagination of both young and old. Its simple yet captivating gameplay, involving wooden bats and an old tennis ball, made it a popular recreational activity in schools. The game's appeal lies not only in its competitive aspect but also in its ability to foster friendships and provide a platform for social interaction.
During its heyday, Padder Tennis courts dotted the landscape of New Zealand schools. Kiwi kids gathered at school to engage in spirited matches, creating lasting memories and bonds. The Kiwi sport's inclusive nature made it accessible to primary and intermediate students, contributing to its widespread popularity.
However, as time marched on and new sports gained prominence, Padder Tennis gradually began to fade from the spotlight. The courts grew quieter, the bats gathered dust in the school sports sheds, and the once-thriving tradition faced the risk of being forgotten.
Padder Tennis New Zealand Inc.
In recent years, a dedicated group of individuals, fueled by nostalgia and a passion for preserving this cherished heritage, have taken up the mantle to revive Padder Tennis in New Zealand. Recognizing the value of the sport in instilling life skills such as teamwork, focus, and perseverance, they have embarked on a journey to reintroduce Padder Tennis to a new generation of Kiwi children.
Through community-driven efforts, Padder Tennis is making a comeback! Schools are embracing the sport as a valuable addition to their physical education programs, and local enthusiasts are organizing events that capture the essence of Padder Tennis. The sport's rich history serves as a foundation, inspiring the next chapter of its story.
As we look to the future, the goal is clear: to ensure that Padder Tennis remains a vibrant part of New Zealand's sporting culture at school. By honouring its history and adapting it to modern times, Padder Tennis is poised to once again unite students in schools, ignite the competitive spirit, and provide a source of joy for primary and intermediate school kids.
The history of Padder Tennis in New Zealand is a testament to the power of tradition, community, and the enduring spirit of sport. With the collective effort of dedicated individuals, we have the opportunity to not only relive the past but also create a future where Padder Tennis thrives anew, enriching the lives of kiwis for generations to come.
DAME RUIA MORRISON
The Rotorua-born Ruia Morrison was the first New Zealand female – and first Māori - to play at Wimbledon, in 1957. Although she only stood 1.54 m tall, Ruia was blessed with superb reflexes and had a devastating volley game at the net! She made it to the quarter-finals in her first year at Wimbledon.
It was her father’s woodwork skills that saw Ruia hitting an old tennis ball against the side of her house with a small wooden bat, which we’ll call a Padder Tennis bat!
Read Ruia Morrison & The Aotearoa Maori Tennis Association endorsement letter by clicking the link.
Padder Tennis Timeline in Aotearoa
As an eight year old, Rui Morrison uses a wooden bat to play Padder Tennis against her weatherboard home in Rotorua.
Padder Tennis is played at Central School and has become one of the "boom" games in school playgrounds across the country.
After Dame Ruia Morrison's 1957 Wimbledon debut, more school kids wanted to play Padder Tennis.