by Te Rangi Huata
Hastings Māori immersion school, Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Wānanga Whare Tapere o Takitimu won their Years 9/10 division finals on Saturday, September 19, at Pettigrew Green Arena.
They beat Napier Boys' High School 10A 45-31. They led at the half time break 17–14.
The co-ed wharekura has a full roll of 40 students while Napier Boys' High School's population of 1200 has 500 Years 9 and 10 students alone.
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"Our whole wharekura is so proud of their achievement," Fleur Wainohu, principal of Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Wānanga Whare Tapere o Takitimu, said.
"They worked so hard to earn that spot in the finals, virtually coming from nowhere in midseason to take the lead in the competition. It was a monumental achievement for them."
What makes this win and the lead up to it so special for the players in our team are the positive changes we have seen in these young men.
Our teachers have noticed visible positive changes in these students attitudes and their commitment to play basketball.
The journey for our kura alongside our players is also significant for us. Their coach Whetu Marama Paenga is a graduate of our kura and returned as a teacher in our wharekura and to coach basketball.
He's a former secondary regional basketball player and gave these young men the drive they needed to be role models both on and off the court.
Three of these seven players, like their coach, have come through our education system since they were babies in our kohanga reo. We are so very proud of them all.