This year’s National Māori Basketball Tournament, which features more than 300 iwi teams, carried on as torrential rain and storms battered Auckland and other parts of the North Island in the weekend.
But coaches and players from Auckland became increasingly worried as news broke about the devastating floods.
Tamaki Makaurau Basketball Club under-17 girls coach Nardie Leonard was jubilant that her girls were able to play in the tournament but said their parents were anxious about what was going on back home in Auckland.
“Many of our whānau were having to go home and deal with flooding in their homes and their cars,” Leonard said.
The tournament began last Monday and carried on through the unseasonal heavy rain and flooding of late Friday.
Four people died in the flooding and a state of emergency remains in Auckland.
Hosting club Rotorua Basketball’s Sue Pene and her husband Rangitihi Pene were sorry for the whānau affected and hoped this tournament would help raise their morale.
Waiting for water to recede
“This type of flooding is unheard of - affecting Mangere and West Auckland. We are here for our whānau and will help in any way we can,” Rangitihi Pene said.
Jaycin Tini, the captain of Ngāpuhi Premier Women, which won the tournament, was happy with the win against Rangitane but getting back home and passing through Auckland was a whole new ball game.
“The roads are closed off - we have to wait and see, just hope the water dies down, and it stops raining and we have just got to take our time. But it’s just more time down here to celebrate.”
And the coach of this year’s winning Premier Men’s team Ngāti Toa Rangatira against Ngāti Kahungunu ki Rakaipaaka, Patariki Hippolite, was thankful the tournament continued as the tournament was an opportunity for those in his team to connect to their iwi, te reo Māori and culture.
“We feel for those in Auckland and are humbled to be able to continue playing the game we love.”
The annual National Māori Basketball Tournament will return to Rotorua again next year but next up will be a Matariki 3 x 3 basketball tournament. Come rain or sun, the tournaments will play on.
Meanwhile, MetService has issued new red rainfall warnings for Northland, Coromandel, and Auckland, north of Orewa.