Winitana leaves Kahuku for New Zealand

Kahuku's Ruanui Winitana wrote on Instagram that he is returning to New Zealand. Jay Metzger / Special to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

Kahuku’s Ruanui Winitana, a senior guard on the basketball team, has left the school after helping the Red Raiders to a runner-up finish in the Division I state tournament, according to his post on Instagram last week.

Winitana was headed back to his native New Zealand. A call to Kahuku coach Brandyn Akana for confirmation was not returned. But two other Kahuku sources confirmed that Winitana left Oahu during the school’s spring break week, March 17-25.

On social media, Winitana wrote, “Sad to say that I’m gonna leave this beautiful place and island of Hawaii to return back home to New Zealand. Have developed some great relationships with some pretty special people here over the last 6 months… love the people culture and community. This isn’t a goodbye but a simple see you later. #RR4L.”

On Feb. 16, Winitana and the Red Raiders lost 64-37 to Punahou in the D-I state championship game.

Last year, Daniel Fotu, another native of New Zealand, went back to his home country at the conclusion of basketball season after leading Kahuku to the Division I state title.


  1. na April 4, 2018 9:20 pm

    recruiting at its finest…not even the sense of urgency to stick around and graduate…might need that diploma later down the line.

  2. Kahuku is a House made of Glass April 4, 2018 9:40 pm

    So funny to read about an international recruit at Kahuku when they sure like to point fingers about everyone else recruiting. Can’t wait to hear them either justify it or try to shift the focus by blaming someone else

  3. LOL April 4, 2018 9:40 pm

    where the Kahuku fans whining about Recruiting??? Brah they no even have shame. Recruit just for sports season and let em go after that. Clearly the school is more invested in its sports teams rather than education. Looooose monehhh

  4. AOK April 4, 2018 9:46 pm

    pathetic. Do these “student” athletes even have family in the north shore area?

  5. Manoa#1 April 4, 2018 10:04 pm

    Nick Abramo What Recruit Police,??

  6. Sad To Hear April 4, 2018 10:44 pm

    Its not even about recruiting, the hardest part for me is taking away opportunities from players who live in Kahuku. They deserve the right to represent their school and community. Its unfortunate!

  7. OIA April 5, 2018 7:35 am

    Unreal!! Got some schools recruit within the state of Hawaii some more then others then some group of people grumble more then others about it. Then you got some schools recruit out of state or even internationally and yet doesn’t complete the school year and no complaints about that when coming from the same school doing the out of state and international recruiting!! At least the local recruiting are sticking in the state!

  8. rrforlifebaby April 5, 2018 8:17 am

    Hmmmmm, honestly, I don’t follow the goings on with the basketball team as much as the football team, so I totally understand the grumblings and pointing fingers….


  9. allforthekids April 5, 2018 9:23 am

    And in 2015 it was Denhym Brooks, Hyrum Harris, and Tamamoko Greene who transferred in right before the basketball season, and transferred out after the season. I think Harris and Greene didn’t even stay until spring break. Denhym Brooks had already graduated from high school in New Zealand when he enrolled at Kahuku to play that senior year. Not sure about the other 2 cousins…………….
    When Brooks returned to New Zealand he entered into a college internship……………
    The Kiwi pipeline is alive and well at Kahuku.

  10. Gary Winthorpe April 5, 2018 9:41 am

    I think it’s fine.

  11. T103 April 5, 2018 10:29 am

    Wow, didn’t know that was going on. Too many comments from people who rep Kahuku who complain about ‘recruiting’ from wherever and here it is, they recruit not from other parts of the island, not even from the states, but from different countries. I was gonna give them the benefit of the doubt about this particular student but when I read #9 comment about previous incidents for basketball recruitment and just throwing it out there, for all the people on the football blogs who consistently complain about other schools recruiting, u guys doing the same thing. It’s sad really. I mean whats the point of recruiting some student from a different country to play for one season and then they go back to their country. Regardless if it’s for basketball or football or whatever sport, at least the ‘recruiting’ of private schools is legit and the students actually stay in school after season with the intention of graduating. So who is worse? u guys or private schools, give me a break.

  12. rrforlifebaby April 5, 2018 11:20 am

    Not that it’ll really matter to some, and someone, please correct me if I’m wrong, but the kid actually did growup on the Northshore for awhile before(prior this basketball season) moving to New Zealand.

    Still, moving back and not finishing out the school year here kinda makes one wonder.


  13. PSA April 5, 2018 12:08 pm

    I didn’t realize its breaking stories every time someone is coming or going from Kahuku high school. Its like a soap opera, oh so and so is coming from out of state, or from the islands to play there. Who cares, get ready to play… Whoever it is.

    I do think its different when “fans” of complain about recruiting is when the kid lives in their school district and attends school elsewhere. That instance you can say, damnit if he didnt go to “insert your school here” he would be playing for his home school instead.

    In Kahukus case, its like really… Was this Winitana kid in your district? Would he had gone to your school but because HE decided to attend Kahuku that you lost out on something? There is no correlation between him not being here taking away from another school. And regarding #6… There are kids that lose out to their competition everywhere you go its not only when there are transfers that are good. This isn’t PAL sports where everyone plays 2 quarters no matter what. You have to play competitively.

  14. ILH April 5, 2018 1:06 pm

    Remember folks its “re-rooted not recruited”.

    ILH needs to catch up and start to recruit Internationally. Can you imagine if the RR Coach was at an ILH school with more means to bring in international players?? That would be awesomeness.

  15. Opinion April 5, 2018 1:20 pm

    PSA, let me understand this. You’re saying because this kid didnt come from a local neighborhood its totally fine to come in to Kahuku for 6 months, play a season then leave immediately withdraw from school at season’s end? Really? Do you also realize that Hawaii’s basketball season is during the summer school break in New Zealand? Just wondering

  16. PSA April 5, 2018 3:18 pm

    Opinion, I guess I am saying that i understand the recruiting complaint when it involves local kids. That makes sense to me….

    But with this case, if the kid is transferring from the mainland or anywhere else. He was never someone that another local school lost out on.

    As far as him leaving… This reminds me of the movie the blindside… The Michael Oher picks up the line backer, runs him through the length of the field, through the endzone, and up over a fence. The ref calls a foul… Then the coach asks. Okay, whats the foul??? and after some back and forth… the Ref says, I guess there was no foul.

    Your looking for a problem where there is none. He was here in school, and as a student athlete he played basketball for Kahuku (of which he attended and lived in the district)… The season was over and after consideration decided withdraw and leave to NZ… That was his choice to decide. There is no rule that says, after the season you must live in Hawaii, get a drivers license, and learn to play the Uke? So, wheres the foul? Kahuku is just what? Doing well in basketball, Yes. Do some “haters” dislike it? Absolutely. Okay. But there is no foul here.

  17. T103 April 5, 2018 3:30 pm

    @PSA. I don’t really care if you play a season for whatever sport and then leave, it just makes it look really bad either for the coaches, looking like they recruited and then the contract was up and they left, or bad for the student/family have the student play for the season and then bail. Question, was he enrolled in the school just this year, or couple years? did something happen back in NZ where he needed to go back? Or was it intentional where he only play the season and then bail? I could give a rip , but just pointing out that get plenty Kahuku commentators on this blog & the football blog who always mentioning something about private schools recruiting when this looks like the same. Let me give them the benefit of the doubt and say it wasn’t recruitment, but maybe something happened back in NZ where he needed to go back, but if there are 2-3 incidents of this happening, players playing the season and immediately bailing out, then u gotta ask the question, whats really going on here?

  18. Mahatma Gandhi April 5, 2018 4:36 pm

    Can’t get Kahuku get a similar coach for football who has contacts all over the world, and then bring in top Polynesians from all over the world to play football for Kahuku?

  19. T103 April 5, 2018 6:51 pm

    @Mahatma Gandhi SHHHH, never speak of recruiting from Kahuku, it doesn’t happen… only ILH private schools do that…. according to some…. *SARCASM* Recruiting at Kahuku doesn’t exist…..

  20. Opinion April 5, 2018 8:46 pm

    PSA you must have misread my post. At no time did i say he needed to learn the uke and work partime at PCC. U think it’s ok that a kid attends a school and withdraws a week after the season ends. Let alone for his senior season only. It’s been the pattern for a few years now. It’s not an isolated incident.

  21. JetWavy April 5, 2018 10:08 pm

    This the same HPW writer who tried to “expose” Tolu Smith in one of the most misinformed articles of the past year and then got called out on it by the dad lol. Not surprised he wrote this one. Let’s be real, Kahuku’s coach is playing the same game all these Hawai’i high school coaches have been playing for decades with out-of-state/foreign transfers. He just been having more success than them in only his third season. Kaimuki had two Lithuanians or Yugoslavians in the 90s for pete’s sake. The Brooke & Harris kids few years back from New Zealand were initially brought in by a guy who was voted the ILH coach of the year THIS season. Before that, he had a 6’9″ foreign exchange student from Germany. On top of that, he also had two players on his roster who would later go on to each become the Hawai’i State player of the year. And he still never win one state title with those teams. I recall last season, Kalaheo had one Canadian/Lithuanian, McKinley had one kid from Chicago, this year Kailua had one American Samoa transfer, etc. etc. etc. Been happening, is happening, and will continue to happen. So blame fingers all over. Everybody like blame the coach but is it a coach’s fault if a player bolts after the season? Until get one actual OIA or ILH rule about a kid having to finish the entire school year after the sport season, the bottom line is what you guys like done about it?

  22. PSA April 6, 2018 11:38 am

    Opinion – the season ended in Feb, stating he “withdraws a week after” is an over-exaggeration. I see the same things you do but see them differently, Here is whats important to me…Was he living in the district of the school? Yes. Was he attending school? Yes. Is there is a rule about having to live out the rest of the school year at a school if you have played a sport there? Nope. Okay, so whats the problem?

  23. Opinion April 6, 2018 12:41 pm

    PSA my bad I over exaggerated by 3 whole weeks. There is no official problem. But ask the families of the kids who grew up playing on the rims in Laie how they feel about having thier opportunity of representing thier school and community taken away by basically a “hired gun” and if you’re that naive thinking nobody knew Winitana was leaving at season’s end you should do a little homework. It was common knowledge he was here only for the season then going back HOME. And yes they did fantastic. What they win again? Oh that’s right Kalaheo won the OIA title and Punahou won States.

  24. PSA April 6, 2018 3:10 pm

    Opinion, – Would it have made the kid feel better if he got beaten out by another one of his classmates who was born here? What if the kids born here but younger and still beating you out? Is it then a problem of I am older than him and I should play ahead of him because of my age? Or what about if another kid the same age as me but taller, he shouldn’t be able to use his height advantage over me, that’s wrong.

    Do you see how this can get pretty STUPID to complain about. Instead of worrying about being the best you can be. There is a quote going around that says something like, winners focus on winning while losers focus on winners. Instead of complaining about someone coming to school here, focus on your own game (things you can control) and get to work.

  25. Opinion April 6, 2018 3:16 pm

    PSA I only see how stupid your views are. There’s a quote going around that says “if you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying”.

  26. Red & blue. April 6, 2018 3:24 pm

    Love when Kahuku gets press. Why did a kid from NZ come here? Money? Lol. Prestige? Lol. What?? Not like he was all state. You know when you get mega hits, people are following kahuku hs. Basketball and football. Trolls welcome.

  27. PSA April 6, 2018 3:32 pm

    Opinion – No one cheated and not every kid is going to make every team (regardless if someone new comes to school or not).

  28. ??? April 6, 2018 5:12 pm

    He wasn’t even that good Anyway..

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