Te reo Māori is a normal part of life for Te Wharekura o Mauao students - on and off the basketball court.

The team of 12 and 13-year-olds took to the court at ASB Arena yesterday in their final match for AIMS Games against Heaton Intermediate School.

Words of encouragement and guidance were heard in both te reo Māori and English from their coach, Nathan Solomon, and the audience of family and friends.

After trailing behind in the first half of the game, the local side inched their way to a tense win of 23-21.

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Solomon, who was also a teacher at the kura, said the boys speak about 70 per cent te reo Māori while at school. His family mostly speak te reo Māori at home.

But on the court, Dayton Douglas, 13, and Kobe O'Callaghan- Solomon, 12, use a lot of Māori words.

"We say things like pouaka for box out, ārai for defence," the pair said.

After the final whistle blew the home side gathered on the sidelines and performed a haka to their opponents.

Solomon said the haka was to show mihi (pay tribute) to the other team.

"They came to Tauranga, and it's a way of saying thank you for an intense game."