Sport | Volleyball

Rising volleyball star named for NZ development squad

Tāiki Pou

After only four and a half years of playing volleyball, a Ngāi Tahu rangatahi has been named in the NZ Junior Development squad and as captain of the National Māori volleyball U20 men’s team.

“That [junior squad] was always a goal of mine since I started playing volley,” says 17-year-old Tāiki Pou, from Christchurch who began to play in year 9.

Pou wasn’t interested in the game when a team was formed at his school, Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Whānau Tahi. But, as time went on, he started playing and found he was good at the game.

He now plays for the Shiley Volleyball Club and his school team has qualified for two secondary national championships held in Palmerston North, which further built his passion for the game.

“Nationals is a great experience, it’s just a whole other level of volleyball that really opened my eyes,” Pou says.

Taīki Pou with his school team

Not only has he made the New Zealand squad that will be traveling to Australia to play in the Australian Junior Champs in July, he has also been named as captain for the National Māori Volleyball U20 men’s team, which is also going to Canada in mid-July.

Ella Carlsen, one of the head coaches for the New Zealand team, says he has a great work ethic and is always seeking development.

“Nothing can stop hard work and ambition. Tāiki possesses both of these attributes, which will carry him far in the sport, whether in our National programmes or abroad,” Carlsen says.

“Tāiki is an outstanding volleyball player with his own unique style of middle play,” she says.

Aotearoa Māori Poirewa director Ngākohu Pāpuni notes that Pou is capable of pursuing a volleyball scholarship overseas.

“He has the potential, along with his academic background, to pursue a volleyball scholarship into either the US or Canada,” Pāpuni says.

“Tāiki was selected as captain of the National Māori volleyball U20 men’s team based on his evident leadership skills. He has a great team attitude and is prepared to give his best on and off the court to his teammates,” she says.

Pou is in his last year at school, and he is focusing on his goal to secure a scholarship to play volleyball at a university overseas.