Flying the Maniapoto Flag at The Great Wall of China was something five Rereahu-Maniapoto descendants, never expected to do.
Since its inception in 1999, the Great Wall Marathon has become revered as one of the world’s most challenging marathons along one of mankind’s greatest monuments. This sellout event attracts runners from over 60 nations. For Tammy Kara, Erina Wehi-Barton, Ulysis Kara, Lynette Stafford and Mary Tapu, to be selected from 2500 applicants from around the world, and only 88 of those from Aotearoa, the team certainly took a step into history!
The team completed the 21km section of the marathon in 47c temperatures, running The Great Wall with its breath-taking surroundings and views. Part of the course leads them through the lower valley and into villages, where they experienced the indigenous hospitality of the cheering locals and the festive atmosphere that was created for the runners.
For Erina Wehi-Barton, it was a culmination of a year’s dedicated training and preparation for the whole team but helped her realise the important things in life. “This marathon, and connecting with the haukainga, certainly makes you appreciate that it’s not what you need, but what you have.”
To stand atop of The Great Wall and fly the Maniapoto flag was truly a special moment in which hopes to serve as inspiration for Maniapoto rangatahi. “Don’t limit yourselves, make the most of your life, get out and explore the furthermost reaches of the world. If my aunties and cousins can do it, then so can I, and surely you can too!” says Erina.
For Erina, she has her sights set on competing in the Hawaii Marathon at the end of the year but for now is preparing for Tri-Māori, a kaupapa that is for all age groups and fitness abilities. “Let’s do this Maniapoto!”, says Erina.
The Maniapoto Maori Trust Board were proud to support this roopu in this awesome kaupapa. If you are interested in seeing what grants are currently open, check out our website www.maniapoto.iwi.nz