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Margaret Dawn McKenzie (1930–1984)

by Val Nairn and Helen Jaensch

This article was published:

Margaret Dawn McKenzie (1930-1984), hockey and softball player, sports administrator, coach and schoolteacher, was born on 23 February 1930 at Victor Harbor, South Australia, elder daughter of Sydney Raymond Wallage, hire-car proprietor, and his wife Margaret Blanche, née Davidson, both born in South Australia. Margaret was educated at Victor Harbor Primary School, at Methodist Ladies’ College, Adelaide, and at the University of Adelaide (1949-52), where she studied physical education but failed to gain a diploma. A member (1950-52) of the South Australian softball team, she was a spectacular player; she was a strong batter and considered the best infielder. In 1952 she was a reserve for the national side.

Wallage’s favourite sport, however, was hockey. In 1950-53 and 1955-56 she represented South Australia and was selected as goal-keeper for national teams in 1951, 1952 and 1953. Quiet, unassuming and determined, she demanded one hundred per cent commitment from herself and others: for example, during training sessions she ran 100-yard sprints in full goal-keeping gear. In 1953 she played for Australia in the International Federation of Women’s Hockey Association’s tournament at Folkestone, Kent, England, when Australia defeated England for the first time on British soil.

In 1951-55 Wallage was sports mistress at Woodlands Church of England Girls’ Grammar School. On 18 May 1954 at the Church of St Columba, Hawthorn, she married with Anglican rites John Oswald McKenzie, a technical assistant. They lived at Brighton and had four children. Mrs McKenzie resumed teaching at Woodlands in 1966.

Vice-chairman (1972-77) of the South Australian Women’s Hockey Association, McKenzie was a State selector (1968-79) and president (1976-79) of Aroha (Adelaide) Hockey Club. She was awarded life membership of the SAWHA in 1977, and of the Aroha club in 1978. For many years she coached Aroha and, for a time, the South Australian under-19 team. A founding member (president 1982) of the South Australian Hockey Coaches Federation, she was a driving force behind the setting up of residential training camps for junior talent squads. She also helped to implement the accreditation scheme that raised the standard and number of coaches in South Australia. The McKenzie medal, instituted in 1981 and originally presented each year to the most outstanding coach, male or female, is now awarded to the best female coach in the women’s premier league.

In 1973 McKenzie had been diagnosed with breast cancer, but she continued to teach and to coach. Forced to resign from full-time work in 1980, she taught part time until her death. She carried on with her work for the hockey coaches’ federation, conducting a course at Mount Gambier in 1983. On 3 February 1984 she died at her Brighton home and was cremated. Her husband and their daughter and three sons survived her. That year the main playing field at Woodlands was named after her. In 1998 the school closed, and next year became part of St Peter’s Woodlands Grammar School. The oval continues to bear her name and the school awards the Margaret McKenzie prize for service to sport each year.

Select Bibliography

  • H. Jaensch et al, Hat Pins to Bodysuits (2003)
  • K. Correll and L. Mildren, Diamond Duels (2005)
  • Advertiser (Adelaide), 11 Feb 1984, p 21

Citation details

Val Nairn and Helen Jaensch, 'McKenzie, Margaret Dawn (1930–1984)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2012, accessed online 26 May 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 18, (Melbourne University Press), 2012

View the front pages for Volume 18

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Wallage, Margaret Dawn

23 February, 1930
Victor Harbor, South Australia, Australia


3 February, 1984 (aged 53)
Brighton, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

Cause of Death

cancer (breast)

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.