The Northern Mystics netball team are pleased to announce another critical piece to their puzzle for 2015, with SKYCITY today welcomed as their new principal sponsor. For at least the next three seasons, the side will be known as the SKYCITY Mystics.

The announcement was made at a function in Auckland today, where the team also unveiled a new Maori and Pacific-influenced dress design and confirmed that Maria Tutaia would captain the side for a third season.

The sponsorship deal will see the SKYCITY Mystics hold key events at SKYCITY – as they did with today’s Season and Dress Launch – stay with SKYCITY prior to home games and make promotional appearances.

“As a major sponsor of several top sports teams in New Zealand, this will be the first sponsorship we have done in professional women’s sport,” said Nigel Morrison, SKYCITY Chief Executive.

“SKYCITY is extremely excited to be a principal sponsor of the SKYCITY Mystics and we’re really proud to now be part of such a popular team, which is so central to the Auckland community.”

For the SKYCITY Mystics, being the first professional female sports team that SKYCITY has joined with – following associations with the SKYCITY Breakers, Blues and Warriors – is significant.

“Our players work very hard to be recognised on an equal footing with male athletes,” said Julie Paterson, the CEO of the SKYCITY Mystics.

“So this sponsorship is not just important for us, but for women’s sport in New Zealand. We greatly appreciate SKYCITY’s support in helping level the playing field.”

Paterson believes that SKYCITY’s involvement this year, along with other key developments, such as Noeline Taurua joining as a specialist coach under Debbie Fuller, leaves the team in “a far stronger place than it has been in some time.”

Another major element of today’s event was the launch of a new SKYCITY Mystics dress.

Last year’s SKYCITY Mystics team identified a disconnect between the side’s uniform and the cultural diversity of the community the team represented. So Brad Walker, from Native Council, worked with Graham Tipene (a Ngati Whatua artist) and Glorie Misa (a Samoan designer) to provide key design

elements for a new dress, with senior players also involved in the process. The result is something the team feels reflects who they are and who they play for.

Maria Tutaia (27), having bounced back from a foot tendon injury at the end of last season, will captain the SKYCITY Mystics for a third ANZ Championship campaign.

“Maria is a big time player who leads on game day,” says Debbie Fuller, the SKYCITY Mystics coach. “When the pressure is on to shoot, she wants ball in hand and delivers.

“Maria is Auckland proud, she respects this opportunity, and she understands the responsibility to lead the team in a tough competition.”

Tutaia is one of four current Silver Ferns – alongside Kayla Cullen, Laura Langman, and Millie Lees – in the side. An interesting newcomer is Serena Guthrie, who has played for England many times against the Silver Ferns.

The SKYCITY Mystics travel to Sydney tomorrow for the pre-season Summer Shootout tournament. Then there are just over three weeks until their first ANZ Championship game against the Tactix in Christchurch (March 2).

The SKYCITY Mystics have six home games this season, starting on March 23 when Irene Van Dyk and the Central Pulse come to The Trusts Arena.