The close-knit ties enjoyed by Muriwhenua have held fast as the teams return with a swag of placings from the 2018 Māori Basketball New Zealand National Tournament to a community swelling with pride.

The Far North players' resilience was put to the test as they faced off against some of the country's best over in Rotorua.

The Under-15 boys and Open Men's teams stomped to victory, both winning their respective B grade categories.

Likewise, other Muriwhenua teams saw their hard pre-tournament training pay off, with the Open Women's team second in the A grade, the Under-17 boys fifth in the B grade, the Under-13 girls fifth in the A grade and the Under-11 boys in the B grade.


Under-15 Muriwhenua boys coach Johnny Sadler says his team came out on top because the athletes are engaging in basketball to gain valuable life skills beyond the court.

"I strive to create a whānau, not a team. Creating, maintaining and strengthening our relationships are integral for a team that has to work and sweat for each other," he said.

"There is nothing a whānau won't do for each other – and that's the mentality you need to win championships."

Under-15 player Te Hauora Tawhara agrees, adding he believes his team's united solidarity "freaked out" the other teams.

"It was a tough finals game and we were all focused," he said.

"We listened to our coach and did what we were told. Everything we learnt worked; we wanted to play the best game we could. And when we won, it was a mean as feeling."

Under-13 girls coach Pika McDonald says his team has made a huge improvement in their placing, up from 11th at last year's nationals.

He said the commitment from his players and the external support they receive are crucial factors in determining the team's successful leap forward this year.

"Big thanks to all the whānau and community who have supported with the huge fundraising efforts made to get the girls to this tournament," he said.

"This is set to be a very busy year for this group of girls with plans already taking place to enter tournaments throughout the year, including an overseas tournament."

Meanwhile, the Muriwhenua teams and other NZ Māori Basketball athletes nationwide will be enjoying a well-deserved breather after last week's competition.