Ahipara lwoman Kea Perene is breaking new ground on the national sporting scene, teaching cricket through te reo Māori in Far North schools.
Perene, a 20-year-old employee of Northern Districts Cricket, is considered the first in New Zealand to be teaching cricket using the Māori language to about a dozen schools from Kawakawa to Te Hapua, working up to five days a week alongside fulltime study.
To make her efforts even more impressive, the former NorthTec student and current Te Wānanga o Raukawa student was 37 weeks pregnant.
"I'm look forward to moving into next year juggling being a fulltime mother, a fulltime student and still juggling work, making it as valuable as possible," Perene said.
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Perene is now on maternity leave but last Friday travelled to Paparore School in Waipapakauri where she delivered the fourth training of a four-part cricket programme, which encouraged children to engage with te reo Māori as they learned fundamental cricket skills.
Perene confessed when she left Kaitaia College she had no idea what she wanted to do. After a stint in Whangārei at NorthTec, Perene moved home to be closer to family and saw the benefit of distance learning through Otaki's Te Wānanga o Raukawa where she studied sport and recreation.
"I knew I loved sport, I was good at it and I love being around people.
"Now making the move to do distance learning, it allows me to work and carry on my everyday life and completing everything I can."
Perene first worked for the Northland Rugby Union, holding school sports programmes during term and holiday time. After making the switch to Northland and Northern Districts cricket, Perene said she had learned a lot about how cricket was sometimes unknown in the Far North.
"Some of these kids had never held a cricket bat before, some of them didn't even know the difference between a cricket ball and a tennis ball, so it's little things like that that made me realise how limited the Far North can be," she said.
"The children up here, girls do netball, boys do rugby and it's kind of about breaking that culture and bringing more opportunities to the Far North."
As expected, Perene's passion for sport is strong and varied.
As a child, she competed in gymnastics, touch, rippa rugby and netball. As an adult, she was also a part of a Te Tai Tokerau women's rugby tour team to compete in Samoa in February this year.
However, contrary to what common sense dictates, Perene has never played an organised game of cricket in her life.
"I know the basic rules and fundamentals when you're teaching the game, but I've never played a game of cricket, some of the rules that are quite technical I don't know," she said with a laugh.
"It's quite funny when people ask me, 'Have you played cricket, did you watch the World Cup', and no I haven't actually, I don't watch cricket, I don't play cricket, but I love it."
Perene believed her understanding of basic skills such as catch and pass was good enough to pass on the skills to the pupils.
Now taking some time off to have her baby, Perene said she was initially cautious about how people would act around her, but she soon found her fears were unwarranted.
"Things like that flooded my mind when I started getting bigger and further along in my pregnancy, but I knew in my own capability that I'd only do as much as I could and I had awesome support."
As a keen studier of te reo, Perene was very proud to use the language across the schools, which varied in their use from partial to full immersion.
Perene hopes she can continue her work in the Far North to better communities in the area.
"It's only been the last month and a half that I've realised how much of an impact this has really had, the feedback that I've been given has been awesome.
"For me, cricket is the vessel that I'm using to grow what I want which is make aware te ao Māori, grow it everywhere I can and that's where it all starts."