Come November, 1000 schoolchildren from across the country will gather at Ambury Park in Mangere to test themselves at Te Rima 101.
Hundreds of those will have trained for the 101-kilometre run, bike, run, waka and swim event under the Mātātoa programme at Te Matariki-Clendon Community Centre, and the Manurewa Leisure Centre.
Mātātoa kaumātua Frank Haimona says Time 2 Train is a kaupapa Māori initiative that draws on Mātauranga Māori, reconnecting whānau with the environment and traditional and customary practices.
“We use multisport that incorporates taonga tākaro as the vehicle to empower whānau to engage, participate, grow, learn and succeed.”
The organisation also aims to provide opportunities in Te Ao Māori practices through a range of values-centred activities.
“We’ve created a culture with core Māori values at its heart because they remind us our achievements are often the result of a joint effort, and that we must protect, preserve and enrich the things we have inherited from past generations,” he says.
The event will take place over five days, a mass powhiri on 29 November ahead of four days of action that includes rakau – Māori martial arts; traditional games, waka and Te Rima –101-kilometres for older athletes and 60 for younger ones.
Haimona says it’s a giant assessment of the programme. “If everyone completes it, then Mātātoa Time 2 Train is a success.”
The medals handed out are designed and fashioned within the programme using cutting edge technology Haimona aims to use to create hoe – waka paddles - that can be inscribed as a marker of the level of achievement of each participant, not unlike karate belts.
“When our rangatahi carry their hoe, others will be able to see what level they are at and aspire to it themselves.”
Manurewa Local Board deputy chair Melissa Moore is delighted the programme has found a home at Te Matariki.
“This is a community centre and it’s great so many of our young people are using it to get fit, create goals, achieve and succeed. We’ve pushed to make our facilities more about community-led activations for and by our people.
“Mātātoa gets people moving by using our facilities in ways centred on Māori experiences. With the city’s largest Māori population, it’s great that we can be exposed to Te Ao Māori through rich experiences in our facilities, parks and open spaces.
“Whenever I visit all I see is our tamariki smiling, laughing, doing poi and mau rakau, and speaking te reo.”
She says the board wants communities that are inclusive, vibrant, healthy and connected. “We talk about communities leading their own initiatives. They can only do that if we provide them resources like Te Matariki.”