Now she's finding her voice thanks to her younger team mates.
Karaka will attend her third Netball World Cup next month with a determination to be on court when it matters the most.
The defender has a gold medal from the 2019 World Cup and a silver from the 2015 showpiece event but she has never played in a World Cup final.
For years Karaka bided her time behind some of the legends of New Zealand netball. She watched team mates Casey Kopua and Katrina Rore and wondered "am I good enough".
In South Africa she wants to show she is.
"Not saying that because they've gone I've gained confidence, I think just within myself I've gained confidence with whoever's here.
"I'd love to take that position as goal defender with both hands and have the opportunity to play in the final or in those last few games as a starting GD.
"I feel like I'm in a better place. I'm confident about my game and how I'm playing. If that means that someone else is better than me on the day I've just got to take it on the chin.
"We've got Jane [Watson] who's shorter than me but she is just very deceptive. And then you've got Kelly [Jury] who is a whole foot taller than me, but I feel comfortable and I feel confident that I bring something different."
Over the years Karaka has come to realise it is not just the seven players on the court when the final whistle blows that can take credit for a team's success in a tournament.
In the past she has been "shy" about her World Cup medals because she was a bench player.
"Now I'm like, no, I've helped that team get there. I played in those games leading up so it's about the collective. It's about what you bring to help actually those who are playing in the final, but the end goal for me is to be at least on the court [in the final]."
The arrival of newer team mates in the squad has been eye-opening and motivating for Karaka.
"The younger ones are very confident in themselves and even though sometimes I'm like, 'Oh my gosh, I could never do that', I've started to be like, okay, I need to be more confident in myself.
"If these players think, you know, they're here for a reason, I'm obviously here and I've been here for three World Cups... yeah, I think I kind of gained some self confidence from the younger generation."