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Taneisha Fifita is on cloud nine – well, her head is nearly touching it. Hayden Meikle catches up with the star Waitaki Girls’ High School netballer.

Q: How old are you, Taneisha?
I’ve just turned 16.

Q: And an obvious question: how tall are you?
Six foot one. About 185cm.

Q: Are you still growing?
I think so, yep. I think I am. Maybe I’ll get to 188cm or so.

Q: Have you always been tall? And are you from a tall family?
Yeah, both my parents are tall. But I’m taller than Mum now, and I’m trying to get taller than Dad, ha ha.

Q: What do you love about netball?
I love how it’s super competitive. I love winning, and I really don’t like losing. In saying that, it’s good to lose sometimes because it teaches you things to help make you better. And I love making new friends through netball, and learning new skills. I was 10 when I started.

Q: Who have been your major influences?
My parents, mostly. Waking me up early in the morning for trainings, and that sort of stuff. And all the coaches I’ve had, and the teachers who have helped me a lot at school. Georgie Salter – she takes me to trainings. I don’t know how to drive.

Q: You father, Tevita, played rugby in Japan. Did you live over there for a while?
Yeah, we were in Japan for five years. It was from when I was 5 until I was 10, when we moved to Oamaru. Japan was hard at first. I didn’t know how to speak the language. I was really shy, and quiet. But once I got the hang of the language, and made some new friends, it was great. We started speaking Japanese at home, instead of Tongan or English. It was quite funny because me and my siblings would talk in Japanese and our parents didn’t know what we were saying. I remember going to Disneyland over there, and watching Dad’s rugby games. I’d love to go back to Japan one day.

Q: Do you think you inherited anything, in sporting terms, from your father?
His toughness, I think. Hah. I thought of trying rugby but Dad wasn’t keen on us girls playing it, and my coaches were keen on me sticking with netball.

Q: How did it feel to get picked in the Beko League squad?
I was surprised, to be honest. I was the youngest in the squad and I wasn’t sure I’d be good enough. I feel very blessed that I have been given this opportunity, and I really want to make the most of it.

Q: I’ve only ever seen you play goal shoot, but Georgie Salter had you at goal keep in the opening game at the weekend. What position do you prefer?
I think I will end up being a defender. I think, but I don’t know. It just feels right with this team, playing as a defender. At school, I play shooter, but I’m sort of 50-50. I like both. I’m usually a bit quiet on the court but I’m starting to talk more, and communicate with the rest of the defence.

Q: What is your ultimate aim in netball? And after school?
My first goal is to make the Southern Steel. Hopefully from there I can represent New Zealand. Go all the way. I want to go to university, probably just in Otago. And I want to run my own business one day. Maybe in fashion or design, something like that.