Sport | Volleyball

Tarawhiti aiming for the top

Kazna Tarawhiti grew up in the USA. She returned recently to New Zealand with her Utah Valley University Volleyball team.

She plays volleyball for Utah Valley University. Her coach Sam Atoa is Samoan, and has spent some time in recent years helping the island nation recover from devastating cyclones. This time he is taking his team with him.

"Him being the man that he is he wanted to help out. So we're going there to do some humanitarian work," says Tarawhiti.

But first, they have come to New Zealand where the team will play the New Zealand women's side.

Tarawhiti was born in Auckland, but when she was about 5 years old her US grandparents became sick, and her family moved to the US and have stayed there ever since. While she says it was difficult initially, her father, Wayne, kept her in touch with her Māori culture and she says that helped her adjust to the new environment.

While she graduated high school early, to begin college, and get on the trip to her homeland, she hasn't yet committed to any degree. She does, however, have a passion for physical education, "I love to be in high school. Help young kids get through their high school experience. Be one of those teachers hopefully, kids will feel comfortable being around and giving that information across well." she said.

Volleyball is a big deal in the US, and Tarawhiti has her eyes on one day becoming professional But she is also realistic and says, "Being my position and my height it's a bit tough. But I mean, why not shoot for the stars you know and see what can come out of it."

Tarawhiti and her Utah Valley side leave for Samoa this week.