Sport | Basketball

Iwi basketball teams show up in record numbers

The Māori Basketball Tournament saw a record-breaking number of teams participate in the competition this year, with more than 2,200 people playing at the Rotorua Events Centre, and surrounding venues.

Players ranged from seven years old to koroua and kuia and more than 300 teams were entered representing their respective iwi.

“It's awesome to have all the iwi back here together,” Rotorua Basketball's Rangitihi Pene says.

“It all came from the idea from Willie Taurima back in 2013 and he drove up and met me and my wife Sue and asked if we would stage this tournament. And we were happy to do that.”

Now in its 10th year, the tournament has become the biggest basketball competition in the country, and Pene says it is likely that it will just keep getting bigger every year.

“You look at entries from this year, and you look at entries from certain entries in the past - there could be many more next year,” he says.  "I see it as a rebuilding year."

Māori basketball tournament becomes the biggest comp in NZ!

Taking on the Navajo

One of the main events of the tournament is the culture night where teams represent their iwi to perform a waiata, haka or TikTok dance. Pene says it has always been a vital aspect of the tournament.

We've had it right from the start because we didn't want to be just another tournament. We want every iwi to have a chance to perform their iwi items, and it's a wonderful night."

Two teams (men's and women's) will be chosen to represent Aotearoa in an exhibition match in the US later this year.

“What we’re calling an Aotearoa team will be two teams to play in this Native American Tournament with the Navajo, just so we start that connection because that has always been one of the main missions of this tournament to try and get an international perspective for our players.”