A local business has come to the rescue of a visiting basketball team which had 12 pairs of shoes stolen while they were in Kaitaia to take part in an international basketball tournament and cultural event.
The shoes went missing overnight on Monday after being left outside Kareponia Marae where the two Auckland-based teams - Tama Toa Samoa (boys) and Teine Samoa (girls) - were staying.
The theft was a big disappointment said the sides' coach Steve Hettig.
He also admitted it wasn't hugely surprising in the context of Kaitaia's current socio economic climate, and with label basketball shoes being highly desirable items on the black market.
While everyone in the team was refusing to let the theft define their experience in the Far North, Hettig was pleasantly surprised to hear a call had gone out to help find or replace the shoes.
One local business happy to answer the SOS was Johnny Andrews and the crew from the surf shop in the middle of Kaitaia's Commerce St who are providing five brand new pairs of basketball shoes (Globes, Vans and Osiris) worth more than $600 to help cheer the team up.
The two Samoan teams feature in a field of eight teams in the boys division and four in the girls taking part in the inaugural Indigenous Youth Basketball Tournament 2017 which is being held at Te Puna Ora gym near the Kaitaia airport from Tuesday to Thursday this week.
Organiser Brett Crown said the under-14 tournament had attracted a good response from teams representing various indigenous nations around the world although the majority of players reside in New Zealand.
"It's basketball but it's all all about culture. We have got good local representation. It's all about retention of their language for them [the different sides]," he said, adding the team travelling the furthest to be part of proceedings was the Haida Nation tribe from British Columbia which had to undergo a 24-hour flight to get to New Zealand.
The visiting teams are being hosted by Te Rarawa and Ngai Takoto marae for the duration of the event.
The finals in the wahine and tane division will be held at 3pm and 4pm respectively today.
The players will also deliver a cultural performance at Te Ahu tonight before the event wraps up tomorrow with a festival of cultural games at Awanui Sports Complex (not Parkdale Reserve as previously advised) shortly after lunch.