Proud Kiwi netball club, Te Whanau, has leaped from strength to undeniable strength in 2017, with five teams winning their games in Mount Isa Amateur Netball Association (MIANA)’s August finals.
MIANA also sent the club’s top team, Te Whanau Fusion, to represent Mount Isa at the 1027 Queensland Cup Carnival in Cairns.
Club chairperson, Pania Osborne, says Te Whanau, which means ‘family’ in Te Reo Māori, plays a huge role in the lives of this group of ex-pat women – and their families.
“We are all from different parts of New Zealand, but because we’ve been out here in a rural, isolated, outback city, we don’t have immediate family here so we are all kind of classed as one family,” Osborne said.
The club actually welcomes players from all backgrounds but there is a large contingent of New Zealanders, and all committee members are Māori.
“We take on Australians, all cultures and ethnic groups, we’ve had a few Indigenous kids with us, and we just welcome them with open arms,” Osborne said.
Altogether there are seven teams with more than 70 active playing members, including each of the committee members.
Te Whanau was formed out of the ashes of another Kiwi club, with several players branching out in order to get their own kids into netball.
Osborne said they hit the ground running early – organising teams, sponsorship, uniforms, and training.
“We said right, we’ve got this amount of funds, we need to turn over to something else, especially for our kids, to get them going,” Osborne said.
Osborne said the club had their teams formed already, it was just a matter of changing the names.
Teams include Te Whanau Fusion, Mystiks, Hey Mamas, and Te Whanau Stars which is made up of teenage players who compete in both the junior and senior competitions. Te Whanau Stars Junior team came first in Division 4 for the Senior comp, and Division 1 in the junior comp.
Fostering young talent has been a focus of the club, with a number of junior teams now competing in MIANA competitions.
“We’ve also got our babies, Te Whanau White Ferns and Te Whanau Blue Ferns, who range from 12 and under, and some of them are brand new,” Osborne said.
“Uniforms for our juniors were all sponsored, so that was a great start to the season.”
The club has been working tirelessly on fundraising, taking on the netball court canteen at MIANA’s Wellington Oval, and working through Mount Isa Rodeo weekend.
“Because we’re a new club, we didn’t have anything,” Osborne said.
“We have all worked so hard. We had a great committee, great parents, and club members all pitching in.”
Te Whanau committee is made up of Chairperson, Pania Osborne; Vice Chairperson, Courtney Tohovaka; Treasurer, Faye Tapu; Secretary, Maria Rophia; and Fundraising Co-ordinator, Bronwyn Pirihi.
“Our coaches and our managers played a big part, too,” Osborne said.
“We took on a whole new team this year, so it was about having those things in place, such as our team agreements, to make sure we were following it by the book, and MIANA rules and regulations were adhered to at all time.”
MIANA is proud of the club too, having sent a Te Whanau Fusion senior team to represent Mount Isa at the 2017 Queensland Cup Carnival in Cairns in August.