Topic: Basketball

Ngatai right man to lead Tall Blacks haka

By Eru Paranihi
  • Auckland
  • North Island: West Coast

Basketball commentator Zeb Nicklin believes Jordan Ngatai is the right man to lead the Tall Black haka for this Friday's FIBA World Cup qualifier against China. 

Ngatai started learning Te Reo Māori earlier this year, in part to get a better understanding of Tū Kaha Opango.

Māori Television basketball commentator Zeb Nicklin, who played alongside Ngatai, recognises his leadership qualities.

“When he's on the court, he never gives up no matter who he is playing, even if it's Lebron (James).” says Nicklin.

When Te Kāea caught up with Ngatai recently, he said that learning Te Reo Māori was a way to connect with his family.

“Since I'm the Kāea for the Tall Blacks leading the haka, it would be awesome to learn more, and just revise the stuff I've learned," says Ngatai.

There have been instances where non-Māori have led a team's haka, such as Richie McCaw with the All Blacks.

Nicklin believes that the job should be left to a Māori player.

“Players like Richie are an exception, they have mana.  However, I like seeing Māori lead something that is so sacred,” says Nicklin.

New Zealand will need all the help they can get as they face a China side stacked with NBA players like Zhou Qi.

Nicklin is honest in his prediction, “I think China will be too good for New Zealand. It's hard seeing us winning.”

Tip-off for the match is this Friday night.