Te Kura goes the baseball way
Baseball has a new frontier – Te Kura Maori o Porirua.
On March 10 the kura unveiled a baseball diamond on its field in Ascot Park. It was developed with the support of Porirua City Council and blessing of Baseball New Zealand.
Betsy Bishop, who was acknowledged by speakers at the ceremony as the driving force behind the project, said it was a proud day for her family.
‘‘[My son] Te Wera, who signed with the Boston Red Sox in 2011 and just recently with the Milwaukee Brewers, attended this kura from 2003 to 2007,’’ she said.
‘‘ He had three brothers who attended this kura, too, and we always wanted to give something back. Now we can and help a sport that is growing in this country.’’
Bishop said a professional clinic hosted by the fledgling Porirua Bombers baseball club last month at Waihora Park, and attended by scouts and baseball coaches, showed off the raw talent that was in Porirua.
It provided her with the impetus to develop a baseball programme at Te Kura Maori o Porirua, which will become part of the curriculum.
It is believed to be the first such programme in the country.
‘‘ We can develop players, coaches, scorers, administrators – the list goes on,’’ she said. ‘‘ The vision for this sport starts here.’’
Former major league baseball pitcher Danny Carrasco, now an ambassador for the sport, holds clinics and works in schools in outposts like New Zealand to foster interest in baseball.
‘‘In New Zealand, you are natural athletes and you play four or five sports growing up,’’ he said.
‘‘Here, at this school, there is a programme that will allow kids to get to know baseball and maybe benefit from the opportunities it brings overseas.
‘‘The pathway could begin here and maybe we will see more Kiwis on TV playing in the major leagues [of baseball] in future.’’
Te Wera Bishop, who hopped on a plane for Milwaukee’s spring training camp last week, said a baseball diamond in the heart of eastern Porirua was a huge deal and a blessing.
‘‘I’m really excited,’’ he said. ‘‘This is a big deal for baseball in New Zealand and opens up the kura and Porirua to the sport.
‘‘I had no exposure to the game when I was primary school age, but I hope other schools follow the kura and look at baseball as an option.’’
Porirua City councillor Izzy Ford said sport was often the best way to instil solid values in children and the etiquette of baseball was full of lessons about respect and how to win and lose well.
Welcome: A group, including Te Wera Bishop (grey T-shirt) and former professional pitcher Danny Carrasco (white T-shirt) take part in the blessing of the new baseball diamond.
Star power: Te Wera Bishop, a catcher bound for the baseball’s big leagues in the United States, threw some pitches and showed off his hitting skills at the kura.