The Aotearoa Māori Secondary Schools netball team have taken out the International Secondary School Challenge tournament in Kuala Lumpur beating Australia, 29-21 in the final.
This Māori team left and came back as victors.
Kristina Tipene says, “It has just been an amazing journey, especially with the bunch of girls that we have, such young talent. I'm just a real privilege to captain such a young side and yeah I just feel really honoured.”
The Māori side represented the nation in the absence of the New Zealand Secondary Schools team.
Anastasia Sekene says, “It was really good. Last year we didn't do so good, we came third but coming out unbeaten and beating Australia is quite big.”
Coach Te Aroha Keelan a former Silver Fern says through their ancestral links they found solace.
“Some of them might not look Māori but they are Māori through and through and because of that tie that link, I think they just gelled really well.”
Kristina Tipene says, “The kaupapa we had around our team and that was for playing for the people that got us here and playing for the people back home and representing our people in a positive light and representing them with honour and that’s what pushed us through the whole week.”
A stalwart of the side also arrived to celebrate the long awaited win.
Dame June Mariu says, “I'm very happy. We have waited a long time for a Māori team to enter an international competition and this is just a start.”
It's a moment the players will cherish for years to come.