Held in Northland, Te Houtaewa Challenge is an annual event which re-enacts the return of the kumara, based on the Māori legend of Te Houtaewa, who ran from Te Ari (Maunganui Bluff) to Maungatautia, Ahipara.
Te Houtaewa Challenge is set on Te Oneroa-Ā-Tōhe (Ninety Mile Beach), a special and iconic place, both used and treasured by many and well-known by Māori for Te Ara Wairua – the spiritual pathway between the living and the dead, and the route that the deceased take on their journey to their ancient homeland.
For the past 26 years, Te Houtaewa race day has attracted runners from all over New Zealand and overseas to compete in the world’s only marathon run entirely on a beach terrain. There are six races to choose from catering to people of all levels of fitness and ability: 62km Ultra Marathon, 5-person team Ultra Relay Marathon, 5-person team Korowai for Taitamariki Ultra-Marathon, 42km Marathon, 21km Half-Marathon and 6km Charity Walk-For-Life.
Through the delivery of the event, Te Houtaewa Māori Charitable Trust aspires to build stronger Far North communities by encouraging healthy lifestyles, promoting pride in Māori culture, and improving the profile of the Far North by showcasing the tourism opportunities offered there. The Trust seeks to raise awareness and capture the unique stories of local history, significant landmarks, beautiful people and sacred places. The Challenge has become a well-established event in the community calendar and provides a community platform to promote hauora (health and wellbeing) for the Te Hiku community and the wider Tai Tokerau region.
“With the generous support of Foundation North the event has grown in numbers with over 250 participants, inviting both local and international guests. The funding received in 2019 supported the co-ordination of the event, the health and safety of all participants and volunteers as well as the execution of environmental provision with beach cleans throughout the event. This event symbolises the importance of whānau and manaakitanga where everyone works together to share and celebrate our cultural heritage whilst engaging in a memorable event in our community.”
- Hailey Tobin, Chair of Te Houtaewa Maori Charitable Trust