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Mangere Mountain Challenge – Te hauparu me te korōria (mud and glory)

11 September 2017

The young, the old, the cold and the bold braved bitter wintery conditions to take part in the Mangere Mountain Challenge  to launch Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori (Māori Language week). 

It was the second year running that Jada MacFie, change leader, had organised the event as a way of raising the profile of te reo Māori within Watercare and celebrating Māori culture in a fun way.  

Four teams assembled at Mangere Domain at 6am and a dire weather forecast couldn’t dampen everyone’s enthusiasm: “We emailed everyone over the weekend to say the event would go on, come rain, hail or shine,” says Jada.

“And that’s exactly what we had—which was a bit of a shame for the gentlemen who turned up in a singlet and shorts. But good on him!”  


Organisers had prepared a course that ran all over Mangere Mountain, with runners dodging kumara pits and scaling steep slopes. After so much rain in the previous 48 hours, the descents were definitely faster than the long upwards climbs. 

The team names all had a vocal theme: Tīma Waiata (sing) — the yellow team made a fast start. They were closely followed by Tīma Horu (roar) – the blue team, with Tīma Hāmama (yell) – the red team and Tīma Tīwaha (bellow) – the green team were not far behind. 

Marshals handed the teams a Māori vocabulary clue on arrival at each point. Once the runners completed the course, they had to assemble the words to make a whakataukī: “‘Tama tū, tama ora, tama noho, tama mate” (an active person lives well, a sitting person dies”. The timing was apt, given that it follows on the heels of Watercare’s Heart Awareness Month. 

Abe Tahere, plant operator based at Mangere was in strong voice, organising the warm-ups and urging competitors along the way. Abe  and his colleague, Sid Welsh, founded the “Mangere Mountain Warriors” two years ago, as a way of keeping fit and through lunchtime workouts in the park. The Warriors often heave logs as part of their training routine but the slippery conditions meant for safety’s sake, the timber had to stay in the boot of Abe’s car during the Mountain Challenge. 

By 7.30am the clouds had parted and hungry competitors were treated to hot coffee and breakfast pastries. 

As  weak rays of spring sunshine warmed the runners limbs, everyone agreed this year’s “Mangere Mountain Challenge” was “ka pai” (very good!).