Xzavia, 14, arrived back in Dannevirke at 3am on Wednesday after his New Zealand Under-16 basketball team placed seventh in the 16-team competition.
“The experience was wonderful and Melbourne a pretty big place,” Xzavia said.
“I’ve learnt a lot, especially about the generosity of people here and not to take people in my life for granted.”
Xzavia’s family said they had been overwhelmed by people’s generosity to their fundraising plight after their story appeared in the Dannevirke News.
“I’ve never had to ask for handouts before, so going public was quite a big thing for me,” dad Johnathan said.
“We’re proud parents who like to make sure our two boys are able to take opportunities when they arise, but this time we would have had to sell some things if we hadn’t received such wonderful support.”
A family friend told the Dannevirke News the couple had been contemplating selling their car to get their son to Melbourne and had to be persuaded to go public with their plea.
Mr Mason and his partner Ngawai work for Paewai Mullins Shearing and were finding it a struggle to come up with the money required for Xzavia’s training camps and his travel to Melbourne for the tournament because their employment is only seasonal.
“Since he was 11, Xzavia has been working towards this goal and it was amazing the response to his story in the newspaper,” Mr Mason said.
“There were a lot of people who helped who wanted to remain anonymous, but we’re so grateful to them all, as well as Paewai Mullins and Xzavia’s bus driver, Derek Rose, along with family and friends in New Zealand and Australia.”
Hawke’s Bay Today reader Val King, of Clive, saw Xzavia’s story and his achievements and said it made her proud to see young Maori achieving.
“They [the Masons] deserve all the help they can get,” she said.
“His family look like really hard-working people and are encouraging their children to achieve. In today’s world that is great and they deserved the help.”
Family and friends also helped by fundraising including a hair-cutting session in Wellington, while an Australian cousin ran raffles.
A company in Australia also donated two pairs of Nike basketball boots, hoodies, shorts and a skin shirt for Xzavia, a Year 10 student at Palmerston North Boys’ High School.
“I’m overwhelmed and very thankful to all those people who saw my story and offered to help. It was very touching,” Xzavia said.
And with mum and dad back in the shearing shed, there’ll be time to save up for another opportunity of a lifetime as Xzavia has been invited to join the Air Raiders basketball tour from December 4 to 24, to take in the world youth championships in Hawaii before travelling on to Los Angeles, to catch an NBA game, as well as college basketball.
“We want him to have that experience as a lot of his New Zealand Under-16 teammates are making the trip,” mum Ngawai said.
But before then Xzavia said he must get stuck into schoolwork again, before competing at the national basketball championships on July 12, playing in the Under-17 Manawatu team.
Source: Hawkes Bay Today