Monday 9 January 2012 | Published in Regional
At 6-foot 5-inches, teenager Thomas Tinirau Mcquarie Kingsmill is built for basketball a game he is excelling in.
The 17-year-old Auckland born and raised Cook Islander has represented his North Harbour basketball club at the age grade level and also trains with the North Harbour senior mens side.
While back on the island visiting family, Thomas joined the Spice Boys basketball team lead by Brendan Heath and Pecan Ikimotu to take out the annual New Year tournament.
However, Thomas, the son of Rosemary and Angus Kingsmill and great grandson of Makea Nui Teremoana Ariki of Taputapuatea, has another sporting passion water polo.
Thomas has a long list of successes in both basketball and water polo and his dream is to represent New Zealand in water polo at the 2016 Olympics.
Wearing the Silver Fern would be awesome, commented Thomas.
Of course if the Cook Islands had a water polo team Thomas would happily represent the islands but the code isnt even a registered sport in the Cooks and as far as basketball goes in the Cook Islands the sport is still very much at the grassroots level with development still ongoing in the code.
Despite that, Thomas is keen to source a pair of water polo togs in the green colours of the Cooks with the 15 stars to show his pride for his mothers home nation.
Thomas got involved with water polo when he was 12 and had little understanding of the game.
His mum Rosemary remembers when a boy at school asked her if Thomas could play water polo because they were short a player.
I told the boy that Thomas could hardly swim and had never played water polo before and he said it was okay and they would put Thomas at goalie, says Rosemary.
Since then Thomas has gone from strength to strength in the sport and at the position of goalie.
In the space of five years Thomas has gone from a boy who could hardly swim to a New Zealand schoolboy representative and most valuable player of the year award recipient.
He has even taken out the water polo player of the year award at his school in Albany Kristin School.
Thomas also trains with the New Zealand mens water polo team and he has already begun his build up to the Junior Worlds in Australia later this year in December.
Even on holiday in Rarotonga Thomas is still in training.
Every morning his routine is to swim to the Tikioki reef and back as well as kayaking to stay in top shape before the hard work all begins when he returns to New Zealand later in the month.
Aside from being totally self motivated, dedicated and goal oriented to train up to 15 hours a week Thomas has the full support of his family.
His mum Rosemary says that Thomas does eat out the fridge and that she is always at the ready with a pot of pasta when he gets home from school.
Thomas also has a good understanding of sports nutrition and has protein shakes on the menu as well.
He says he loves playing for school pride and being a role model and the respect he receives as a student leader.
For Thomas doing something he loves is what motivates him and its his advice to other young Cook Islanders find something you love and do it.
Find something you love and give it your best shot, he says.
There is little doubt that Thomas is destined for sports stardom and when he does don the Silver Fern for New Zealand he will still be an athlete the Cook Islands can be proud of.