Belonging through whānau and basketball

Seventeen year old Trent dreams of one day playing in the NBA. That dream may become reality thanks to strong whānau support and community mentors.

Published on
15 Aug 2018
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Supporting whānau and cultural connection

Culture and whānau closely connected

Trent has lived with his grandparents and a number of cousins since the age of five. This solid upbringing in whānau care has brought him closer to his culture and whakapapa.

"He’s grown into a fine, handsome young man who is doing extremely well at school," Trent’s grandmother Beatrice says.

Trent recognises the positive support from his grandparents and wider whānau. 

Trent and his aunty Teara

The value of whānau care

Trent's Aunty Teara has been there for him since day one.

She is a big believer in whānau care.

“In whānau care there is no looking or searching for who you are. There’s a firm foundation of who your family is, where you come from, and you just belong,” says Teara.

“No matter how hard it is, it’s remarkable to see him succeed and become the person that he is.”

Trent sees his grandfather as a mentor and Trent has now become a mentor himself to his younger cousins.

“The number one support you’ll ever have is your family. If you’re going through bad things in life, you can always turn to them and they’ll be there,” Trent says.

"I’m Māori. This is my culture. I am proud.”


Community role models playing a big part

Trent has role models and cultural support outside of his whānau too.

“For Trent the idea of identity is really important. His sense of wairua, his sense of knowing he belongs in an environment I think stems strongly from his ability to stand on culture for everything he does,” says Trent’s teacher Joe Houghton, who has helped Trent connect with Māori culture.



Trent outside
Finding a place to belong through basketball

Trent says that being connected to his culture has helped him in many ways.

“Through Māori (Te Reo class), I’ve met Steven Adams, and I got to play against some of the people in OKC.”

On the basketball court, he has been taken under the wing of the Canterbury Rams. Their captain Tony Tolovae is Trent’s mentor, and he has noticed significant changes in young people he has mentored over the years. 

“I've seen a lot of kids during our mentoring course change the way they act. Some teachers tell us that they're improving in class with their behaviour,” Tony says.

Whānau engagement is key

Joe Houghton is passionate about culturally responsive teaching. He says it’s important to engage with whānau.

“We believe if we try and support culture without supporting whānau engagement at the school, then it’s probably not going to be sustainable in the long term.”

Trent lives these ideals.

“Culture has always been part of my life. One day if I have kids, I want it to be a big part of their life, and to help them impact on the world.  And just to make everyone aware that yes I’m Māori. This is my culture. I am proud.”