W. Havilah Down, for 35 years secretary-treasurer of the New Zealand Association, was an outstanding personality. Perhaps his greatest contribution to the game was a continuing insistence on the value of visits from the best overseas exponents of the game. He was personally responsible for the tour of this country by the Indian Army team of 1926, the first experience New Zealanders had of some of the world's top players.
New Zealand has sought a visit by an English team since 1908, but this has not yet eventuated. The first international series was played against Australia in 1922 when New Zealand won one game, drew one, and lost five. In 1925 New Zealand fared no better, but in 1934, 1948, 1952, and 1958 the results were overwhelmingly in New Zealand's favour. In 1952 New Zealand won 20 matches and drew two without losing a game. New Zealand teams in Australia in 1923, 1927, 1932, 1937, 1950, and 1954 won 93 games, drew 10 and lost only seven.
The regular exchange of visits with Australia undoubtedly did much to develop hockey in New Zealand, but there can be no doubt that meetings with Indian sides have been primarily responsible for the recent high standard of New Zealand teams. New Zealand's greater proficiency can be measured by the performance at Rome in 1960 when a single goal gave the New Zealand Olympic team victory over Australia and a placing of fifth in international competition. New Zealand was also sixth at the Olympic Games in Melbourne in 1956. Honours were even in the 1926 Indian Army team series – one win, one loss, one draw, but the All-India team in 1935 scored 307 goals with only 21 goals against them in 28 games. All the tests were lost. Three years later the Prince of Manavadar's team won the three tests by the convincing margins of 5–1, 4–0, 3–1. In 1955, however, local hockey had learnt enough to secure a clear-cut win in the second test against Indian Wanderers by four goals to two.
The Royal Pakistan Air Force team briefly visited New Zealand in 1952, but it was not until 1958 that a fully representative team from Pakistan came to this country. This team, which later won the hockey gold medal at the Rome Olympics, was held to a draw (two all) in the second test at Wellington.