The upcoming Māori-inspired endurance event Hawaiki Toa offers participants "a hell of an experience", says race director Beez Te Waati.
Beez hopes Hawaiki Toa will ignite a spiritual flame in participants by connecting them with Hawaiki – the ancient homeland of all Polynesian peoples – and toa, their own warrior essence.
The three-part event will take place at the Vector Wero Whitewater Park in Auckland on 17 November.
It has three categories:
Beginners (Toa Whakataki) 4km in total
Intermediate (Toa Takawaenga) 6km in total
Advanced (Toa Takawaenga) 8km in total
First up, the swim:
"You're swimming, you go up a river channel and your mission is to [dive for] a greenstone, a pounamu"
Next, the run:
"Your mission there is to find a rope [taura] so you can tie it in through your greenstone pounamu and tie it round your neck [as a taonga]. That way, you have the essence to enter into the fortress"
Finally, a fortress of obstacles:
Te Pā (the fortress) is full of obstacles you might find in an ancient pā site, Beez says.
The idea of creating an endurance event with a narrative came from Beez and his wife, who are theatre storytellers, he says.
"Hawaiki Toa is a chance for people to actually be in the story and live that experience with us."
Auckland Council is the major sponsor of the event, and Beez says they loved the concept as a way to improve Māori health statistics.
"We want people to go in there and earn the right to be able to hold that pounamu against their skin so it gives them the ignited power to change their lifestyles in a healthy way. It's encouraging people to create better habits for themselves."
The race organisers are aiming for 150 participants in this first year – around 50 in each category.
Ahead of the event, they're running training camps on Auckland pā sites and conducting swimming lessons.
'Take it day by day' is Beez's top training tip.
"Progress every day … progress until you feel comfortable enough to progress into the realms of Hawaiki Toa."
Find out more about Hawaiki Toa here.