There is something in the water at Makahu, someone told me the other day. Mostly a farming community, the area is sparsely populated, yet it has generated several rising sport stars.
They include Callum Old, 17, an exceptional tennis player among the top ranks of Taranaki men; Kelly Jury, 15, a top Taranaki netballer; Rhys Bishop, who represented the country in schools' cross-country champs in Malta; Roma Poletti, a top Taranaki hockey player and her sister, Connie, a talented basketballer who started as a promising netballer.
``We are always proud of what our children achieve here, whether it be academically, sporting, music or otherwise. Once the children leave Makahu School, we like to follow their achievements, as it gives the children someone to look up to, inspire to, that they can connect with from within their community,'' says Makahu principal Sue Fergus.
The Stratford Press talked to Connie about her sporting achievements.
``Basketball was always my second sport with netball my priority, until this year,'' says Connie.
Having played representative netball through the years and premier grade 1 netball last year with the New Plymouth Girls High team, where she is in Year 11, she last year started seriously considering giving basketball priority and this year gave it a go.
She played for NPGHS Senior A, U17 A New Plymouth Association and was selected for the U16 New Zealand team.
``Netball has given me the skills to perform at a high level and my netball coaches, Robyn Jury and Eileen Tamiti, have taught me to have the mental strength the coaches looked for at the New Zealand basketball trial.''
She says Maurice Gilmore, who introduced her to basketball, gave her the confidence to play her own game.
``Willie and Lee Banks have taught me how to play. They have taught me the game and made it such a fun experience. I look up to Willie because he is a famous basketballer and knows what it is like to be at the top level. ``He is wise and always looks at the positives. He has taught me to find the good things in my game, rather then the negatives. Lee has always helped me with all my troubles and has taken me all over the North Island.
Willie is Connie's New Plymouth U17 representative team coach and Lee, his wife, has been instrumental in managing Connie's sporting opportunities.
She aims to continue playing in New Zealand representative age groups while at school and then get a scholarship to the US to play for a top American college team and represent New Zealand in the Tall Ferns.
She loves the freedom basketball gives her to play her own game.
``Netball was a totally different sport and I felt it was always too restricting. I enjoy basketball because I have only been playing for a couple of years so I am new to it, so I know there is a lot to learn.''
For young players with their eyes on the big league, her advice is they must be ``really positive''.
``What the coaches told me at the trials was they liked me because of my athletic ability. ``I am not that skilled in basketball but I train hard to achieve what I want.
``Find your strengths and use them to your advantage.''