New Zealand Hoops – Q&A With Ashleigh Karaitiana

What is your full name and where are you from?

My name is Ashleigh Dante Katuku Karaitiana and I was born in Hamilton, NZ. My parents are from Hastings & Danniverke. I moved to Sydney, Australia at the age of 6, and currently reside in Brisbane, Australia.

Why did you choose the game of basketball? 

My entire family played and I was raised around the game, however I didn’t start playing until I was 10. Learnt the game, fell in love with it and haven’t stopped since.

What schools did you attend and what were your achievements and highlights?

Primary Schools:

Aberdeen School (Hamilton, NZ)

Totara Drive School (Masterton, NZ)

Randwick Public School (Sydney, AUS)

High Schools:

Matraville Sports HS (Sydney, AUS)

Brigidine College Randwick (Sydney, AUS)

Church College of NZ (Hamilton, NZ)

Lake Ginninderra College (Canberra, AUS)

Endeavour Sports HS (Sydney, AUS)

College/University:

University of Hawaii (Honolulu, USA)

You are a role model for young women, what advice do you have for them getting into basketball?

Do the mahi, get the treats. But in all seriousness, you have to put in the work to get better. Do extra, do more than what is required of you. Hard work pays off big time!

What has been the ultimate highlight so far in your career? 

  1. Advancing to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1998 after winning the Big West Championship Game and receiving Finals MVP for the University of Hawaii in 2016.
  2. Scoring 40 points in my debut for Tall Ferns in 2018, as well as winning the William Jones Cup and being named as the MVP and All Star 5 of the tournament.
  3. Returning to basketball 6 weeks post pregnancy, and having my daughter, Kalea, travel with the Tall Ferns to India & Auckland in 2019.

Who has been your biggest influence in basketball and why?

My Dad, he is the reason why I began to play basketball and has always been my #1 supporter in everything that I do. He coached me a lot during my juniors and has always been respected in the community. He has a high IQ about the game and I was fortunate enough to learn and develop the fundamentals of the game in the early years because of him.

Where do you see women’s basketball in the next five years? 

Women’s basketball, specifically in NZ, is on the rise and it will continue to build. I believe the Tall Ferns have the potential to make the next Olympics and I would love to be apart of that.

Who is the ultimate women’s basketball player in New Zealand?

Megan Compain.

Who is the ultimate men’s basketball player in New Zealand? 

Top 3 would be Pero Cameron, Kirk Penny & Mika Vukona.

In terms of your playing career, what would be the pinnacle for you? 

Playing for the Tall Ferns at the Olympics.

Whats the best pair of basketball shoes you have owned? 

It’s a toss up between Kobe’s & Curry’s. I’m currently rotating between Curry’s & Giannis’ at the moment.

If you have one piece of advice for your younger self, what would it be?

Never take anything for granted and knowing that everything happens for a reason – the good and the bad.

Covid-19 has shaken things up a bit in terms of being able to play basketball without restrictions, what’s next for you and what have you been doing to keep yourself involved in the game? 

It was definitely unfortunate as I had signed with Harbour Breeze and was actually in NZ during the initial lockdown. When the season was cancelled, I returned to Australia to be with my family. I am currently playing in the Queensland State League (QSL) for the RedCity Roar. We started the season 3 weeks ago and it’s great to be back out on the floor playing basketball again.

#BuildTheCulture 🏀

Published by Jesse Wallis

Basketball Journalist

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