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Regional | Māori

Kura kaupapa Māori to battle it out for volleyball supremacy

A lone Kura kaupapa Māori has travelled to Palmerston North for the New Zealand Secondary Schools Volleyball tournament.

Based in Ōtautahi, TKKM o Te Whānau Tahi is the only kura kaupapa among the 211 teams that will compete at the tournament.

Without a school gym to train and only 40 male students, the team is led by ex-students who have fundraised to hire training facilities.

The team has started the tournament well, with Te Whānau Tahi A beating Lynfield College 2-1.

Team is ready to go

Former New Zealand volleyball women’s captain Stacey Niao, has come on board as coach of the team.

She says the team is growing, and still learning the nuances of the game.

“So we have got all the basics. It’s just trying to stay focused during the game and stay consistent.”

“Volleyball is the type of game that can be real hard. It’s something that, the small skills, they count a lot.”

Mental skills coach Chase Tiatia has been brought on board to help with the mental aspect of volleyball. He says that the journey has been amazing to see.

“I’ve seen these young tāne just grow and grow and grow every year.”

“This has been four years in the making. The coaches have put in a lot of work.”

The competition is taking place this week at the CET Arena in Palmerston North and the Massey University Teaching Gym.

With volleyball on a rapid rise in schools across the motu, the 2024 event has jumped 20% in participating teams, up to 198 in total, with 103 girls’ teams joined by 95 boys’ teams over five days of competition.

The increase in teams echoes the latest School Sport NZ Census information, which shows volleyball has again strengthened its rangatahi base - now the third most popular school sport in Aotearoa - with an 11% rise in participation over the last two years.

Niao says the team is aiming for a top finish.

“Te Whānau Tahi hasn’t made a final in the senior competition. We’ve been in semis but we haven’t won those.”

For captain Campbell Codyre, it’s a final roll of the dice before leaving school.

“At this time, the vibe within the squad is good. We are all excited for the competition.”

“But there is some apprehension but that’s overcome by the excitement.”

Tomorrow is a big day for the team, with Te Whānau Tahi to take on Western Heights, a powerhouse of the volleyball scene in New Zealand, which has won 10 national titles.