The Australian Indigenous Basketball team are in the country ahead of their trans-Tasman series against the New Zealand Māori side, but before they get down to business, they’re taking the opportunity to experience Māori culture. 

The Apunipima All Stars visited Te Wharekura o Mauao in Tauranga on Tuesday where they took students through a training session.

“He whiwhinga tino pai tēnei mō mātou ki te noho tahi i te taha o ēnei tāne nunui rawa o Ahitereiria, kia whakapiki i ō mātou pūkenga i tēnei mea e aroha nui mātou ko te poitūkohu,” te kī a Nganeko Wharekura.

While it’s not the team’s first visit to Aotearoa, it was their first time visiting a total immersion Māori secondary school, an experience, the team’s head coach Joel Khalu says, they appreciated.

“It started out about basketball, but now it’s about cultural sharing; us having the ability to learn culture and share our culture, so we're very grateful to be able to come to the local school and have this experience.”

The cultural exchange also included staying over at Tauranga’s Te Wairoa Marae.

“[It was] really special for us. We understand that significance and we really respect and acknowledge the traditional elders for coming out and welcoming us the way that they did,” said Khalu.

The team will face the NZ Māori Men’s national team on Friday.