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Basketball royalty on show at the Arena


Florencia Chagas in action for the Tokomanawa Queens on 2 July at Te Rauparaha Arena. Photo: Andrew Matautia

Tokomanawa Queens are adding another chapter to basketball’s long and storied association with Porirua, and the side’s locally based coach couldn’t be happier.

The Wellington region-based Queens are part of the Tauihi Basketball Aotearoa competition, which also features the Northern Kāhu (Auckland/Northland), Mid-North Whai (Tauranga), Mainland Pouākai (Canterbury/Nelson) and Southern Hoiho (Otago/Southland).

There is a mix of homegrown stars and overseas talent among what is essentially a revamped national women’s basketball league - all told, there are 18 current or former Tall Ferns lining up.

"This is fantastic for our aspiring young players to be mixing with class imports, it’s raising the level," says Queens coach, former Tall Ferns player and Porirua local Tania Tupu.

She says having basketball of this level at the Arena is exciting.

"Back in the day I played at Porirua’s Rec Centre and in Newtown and gyms all over the place, but I never got to play in a place like the Arena. It’s fantastic - I had a long career myself but never got to play at home. Now I’m able to extend my passion into the coaching realm and it’s a challenge to step up, but I can do it in Porirua.

"We put on a show and that’s what basketball is about, with the music and entertainment. This is a great chance for people in Porirua to see the game we love, and I’m proud to be doing it right here."

Tupu says along with imports from Sweden and Argentina, one to watch is Grace Hunter, born in eastern Porirua and who has come back after playing at university in the US.

Porirua’s Event Manager Helen Brookes says it’s special having the Queens here in Porirua.

"Tauihi means to soar in te reo Māori and after the first game here [an 82-78 win over the Whai] it’s easy to see why it’s called that - the action was non-stop, fast-paced right through to the final hooter.

"Porirua has an amazing tradition of basketball and we’re adding to that with this competition. This is basketball of the highest quality."

It’s also fitting a competition like this has matches at the Arena, after the work in Porirua of Willie Taurima, one of the facility’s founding managers. He passed away in 2018 but was honoured at the recent Wellington Sports Awards for his passion and dedication to basketball.

The Queens’ remaining games at Te Rauparaha Arena are against the Whai on Monday 25 July, Hoiho on Wednesday 3 August and Kāhu on Thursday 18 August.

All games tip off at 7pm and tickets can be purchased at or at the door - $5 for children, $20 for adults. The Queens’ lineup, schedule and tickets can be found at

12 Jul 2022