Māori basketball nationals the biggest in Oceania

By Heta Gardiner

Māori kids and kaumātua alike are preparing for the biggest basketball tournament in Oceania.  

Almost 2,000 players are set to compete at the 2019 Māori Basketball National Tournament. 

The competition’s 192 teams are more than Australia's biggest basketball competition, which had around 170 teams. 

Age groups range from under 9’s all the way to kaumātua teams of over 45's. 

Organiser Darrell Pene says a lot of the appeal is that people of all shapes and sizes can compete.

“Our kids play but so do our elders, even if some can only manage a walk rather than a run,” Pene says with a laugh.

For Hailey Houltham, the coach for one of the junior Te Arawa teams, strengthening the next generation is key.

“That was me when I was younger-  I was really into basketball so it’s good for me to share what I learned, share my skills with the next generation,” Says Houltham.

The tournament is held at Rotorua Energy Events Centre, Rotorua Girls High School and Rotorua Boys High School and runs from Wednesday 23rd January to Saturday 26th January.