Regional | Northland

Trip of a lifetime for Kaipara netball team

An under-18 netball team from Kaipara is gearing up for a trip of a lifetime, competing in the International Netball Festival in Fiji, a first for a local team at the prestigious event.

The Pouto Warriors under-18 netball team has been training and fundraising for months and, aside from the tournament, will be looking at mixing it up with the local people.

The 12-member team has players aged between 12 and 17 years old, with some travelling enormous distances to make training in Dargaville.

Coach Te Atawhai Ulutaufonua says it’s a trip of a lifetime for the girls.

“It’s all new for half of them. Only a handful of them have been travelling before this. All the rest of the girls haven’t left New Zealand. So it’s a big achievement for them.”

“Some of them travel 130 kilometres in one training session. So we do that three times a week and have been going hard for five months.”

True dedication

Ulutaufonua says the cost of the trip is $66,000, so the girls have been busy fundraising, as well as making the effort to make training.

“We’ve been fundraising galore. We’ve had monthly hāngī, we’ve had mystery envelopes, and we’ve had raffles sponsored by family members. In the last one, we had four framed korowai given to us.”

For player Harlow Kapa the trip to Fiji is a welcome distraction for a region that has been pummelled by recent weather events.

“Sometimes it’s been stressful, especially with all the flooding that’s been happening. It’s been hard for them to come into town but they still commit and they make it all the way here.”

The team flies out to Laukota Fiji, in December where they will spend time competing as well as visiting local villages. The International Netball Festival is a cultural and humanitarian tour and an opportunity for travelling teams to experience life in Fiji.