The extinct huia bird's movements are little known but its sedentary, seasonal existence depicts long legs suitable for hopping.

Using that analogy, you could say the contemporary "Huia" from Hastings Boys' High School have made long leaps and bounds on the basketball court to claim the bragging rights crown at the Basketball New Zealand zone 3 premiership in Napier on Tuesday.

HBHS junior boys, who have embraced the huia in the school emblem, beat Palmerston North Boys' High School 75-68 in the four-day tournament at the Pettigrew-Green Arena, Taradale.

"We're just overwhelmed with the amount of work they've put in from day one in term one," said delighted coach Regan Spooner after his charges prevailed at the Basketball Hawke's Bay-hosted event that had lured 29 year 9 and 10 teams from the lower North Island catchment area.


The Rongo Maaka Morrell-skippered red and blues went through undefeated in the premiership with Tzar Smiler the leading tourney point scorer. It was a testimony to their four times a week training after school and playing two matches a week.

They also claimed the Hawke's Bay Junior Intercity crown a fortnight ago in beating Napier Boys' High School 103-50 in the final as well as the 3 x 3 national junior championship in Tauranga early this year.

"I'm very proud of the boys in the way they've stepped up to work hard throughout the season," Spooner said.

The entire 10-member squad will represent the HBHS senior basketballers under the tutelage of former Hawks mentor Curtis Wooten from next year.

That lends credence to the Akina Man values former Hawks player Spooner and his assistant, Peleti Tuala-Fata, whose wife Tineka was team manager, have instilled in their pupils not just to be basketballers but also provide each individual with a sense of identity, pride in themselves and their roots, with the underlying theme of respect.

"They have a great chemistry with each other, they respect each other and show values within themselves," said the 40-year-old HBHS teacher's aide who is involved with the school academy to help pupils map their life's journey in reflecting on their whakapapa (genealogy).

"They appreciate the things they have, especially the Akina colours of Hastings Boys' High, something I wanted to instil in them — the amount of huia they wear on their chest," he said, alluding to the bird's tail feathers which were traditionally hung from the ceilings of chiefs' houses, worn at funerals and bartered as items of value among tribes.

HBHS' dominance was evident in their yawing results. They beat Manukura School (Palmerston North), 88-47 first up, pummelled Stratford High (Taranaki) 139-44 and overwhelmed New Plymouth BHS 109-69 in pool play.


Small forward Smiler claimed a triple double against NPBHS with 48 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists while forward Denim Tuala-Fata backed up with a double-double 22 points and pulled 15 off the boards.

HBHS then trounced Rongotai College 108-40 in the quarter-final before making elementary work of fellow Wellingtonians Scot's College, 106-51, in the semifinal.

NBHS were seventh in the boys' premiership Boys while St John's College, of Hastings, finished fourth the boys' A grade competition.

In the girls' premiership, Sacred Heart College, of New Plymouth, were crowned champions after they beat cross-town rivals New Plymouth Girls' High School 79-71 in the final.

Sacred Heart College, of New Plymouth, were who crowned junior girls' premiership basketball champions at the PG Arena, Napier. Photo/supplied
Sacred Heart College, of New Plymouth, were who crowned junior girls' premiership basketball champions at the PG Arena, Napier. Photo/supplied