Māori basketballer granted 4-year scholarship opportunity in America

By Wepiha Te Kanawa

A 17-year-old South Island girl has received an opportunity of a life time.

Laken Wairau received a fully paid 4-year scholarship to Indiana in America to pursue her basketball career. She also believes it’s her Māori culture that’s helped lead her to success.

“I sent footage of me playing basketball to the scouts in America and it wasn't long before I got a scholarship to Indiana University,” says Wairau.

Laken's younger sister Sapphire and father Mason are her biggest fans.

She says, “Every day my younger sister trains with me. My parents and grandparents come to watch all my games every week.”

“Universities here are completely different to Universities in America, about 40,000 students at one school,” added Laken.

Her overall dream is to make it to the pinnacle of world sport. She says, “It would be a dream come true to play at the Olympics for the New Zealand Tall Ferns.”

Laken leaves for America on Boxing Day.