The inaugural Hawaiki Toa event was held today at Manukau's Vector Wero Whitewater Park. The goal of the organisers is to create an event that will provide healthy lifestyles for the community.
Event organiser Beez Ngarino Te Waati is hoping to change people's mindsets to help turn around the negative statistics that continue to plague Māori.
Hawaiki Toa saw participants put through different challenges in beginners, intermediate and advanced levels.
There was swimming, wading through water, climbing, diving, jumping over walls, carrying bags of sands and crawling uphill.
The dive required the participants to find a pounamu pendant at the bottom of a pool before moving on to the next leg of the event.
They were able to keep their pounamu, Te Waati told the competitors that while anyone can gift and receive a pounamu, it is another thing to have worked for one.
The event was blended with Māori culture. Chris Thomas of Ngāpuhi participated in the beginner section before being persuaded to re-enter the intermediate section and enjoyed his time around the course.
"I mean I came to have fun, but after the first little speech you're kind of like 'oh yeah, nah I'm going to want to win this' and it ended up being pretty hard-out."
The participants were led to the start line by taua (warriors) who cleared the way to begin each race. As they crossed the finish line they were met with song and haka.
Jared Wikeepa felt he was given an extra boost from seeing the culture throughout the course.
"They started us off like that, and then welcomed us at the finish. Gives you an extra boost, I'd say."
Shortland St actors Jarod Rawiri (Mo Hannah), Luke Patrick (Frank Warner), Jayden Daniels (Curtis Hannah), Reuben Milner (Jack Hannah) and Tane Williams-Accra (Ali Karim) were among the competitors who completed the course this morning.
"It's more of a spiritual sense and it's just- it's one thing that just fuels you up and makes you emotional, all different kinds of emotions. I'm hooked. I love it," says Patrick.
Rawiri says he and his fellow cast members entered the event as a way of showing their support for what Te Waati is trying to achieve, saying, "What Beez is trying to capture is that essence of being Māori and also bringing our Atua and our hinengaro and our mātauranga and our wairua to an event like this."
It's an event Rawiri says is about pushing physical boundaries, before adding, "I feel like I have done, I have achieved that."
Te Waati believes that the future well-being of Māori is in the mindset of the ancestors. He says, male or female, everyone has that warrior within them, so this event is a foundation block from where that form can be rediscovered.