Cameron whānau aim to unite iwi through basketball camps

By Mare Haimona-Riki

The Cameron whānau recently hosted two basketball camps with the aim of uniting Ngāpuhi basketball with Ngāti Toa, Ngati Raukawa, and surrounding hapū. 

The camps featured all of the Cameron siblings including Tall Blacks legend and current Tall Blacks Coach Pero Cameron, Tall Ferns Assistant Coach Jody Cameron, and siblings Zeta, Jeannie, and Ray - who all played at an international level. 

“And we even got mum and dad to come down to which is the first time that has ever happened,” says Ray Cameron. 

Ray Cameron Coaching rangatahi in Porirua

The camps took place in Porirua and Ōtaki and had at least 100 rangatahi at each programme. Cameron says the purpose of the sessions was simply to inspire the next generation.

“Our communities need action,” he says.

"Our whānau (Cameron's) are one of many to provide safe environments for kids to have fun and dream in this sport. Too many of our whanau and Rangatahi don’t have options or access. So we are out here talking to people to make things work."

The Cameron whānau have a long history of helping communities through Basketball - and that was recognised earlier this year when the matriarch of the family Mata Cameron won the Sir Lance Cross Award for exceptional service to basketball. 

Ray has certainly followed in his mother's footsteps by leading basketball in Te Tai Tokerau for well over 10 years now, and recently coaching the Whangārei Girls team to a 4th place finis at Nationals. their first ever appearance at the tournament. 

“My job is working with youth on the ground who are mostly at risk. They choose to be stimulated by something that they can’t replace. School and sport are supposed to be there. If it’s not there, they try to replace it with something else."

Cameron says that these camps are not a one-off and that they are working with other iwi including Tainui, Ngāti Kahungunu, Te Arawa for more community initiatives in the near future.