Seventy-three-year-old Brian McGrath (Ngāti Raukawa) and his IronMan teammate Alf Robson (Ngāti Tama) are on a quest to participate in this year's ‘Ride for Talei.
“We’re looking at maybe riding 120 kilometres to 150 kilometres a day, which is the reason why we’re happening to be riding through Waitara today and stopped here,” Brian McGrath says.
"We’ve been doing a lot of work to be able to ride from Wellington to Auckland and meet up with the rest of the crew to do the journey,” McGrath says.
The 2023 ‘Ride for Talei’ will begin in Rotorua at the Kauae Urupā, where Talei Morrison was buried in 2018.
Riders will then travel more than 450 kilometres from Rotorua to Wellington, the location of the last Te Matatini.
They will then take on more than 640 kilometres from Wellington to Te Matatini Herenga Waka at Eden Park in Tāmaki Makaurau.
“Promoting the importance of our wāhine getting tested and I guess for tāne it’s the same story. Prostate cancer is stealing away the lives of our whānau,” Alf Robson says.
“Talei’s background was in kapa haka. She really wanted to make sure that message was loud and strong and promoted to kapa haka at Te Matatini,” he says.
Talei Morrison of Te Arawa received a stage four cervical cancer diagnosis in 2017 and died on June 16, 2018 - but not before she fiercely advocated for wāhine Māori to get a smear test.
The first ‘Ride for Talei’ began in 2019 and will continue every Te Matatini to raise awareness of women's health and encourage early screening.
Robson is looking forward to this year's challenge as well as the incredible kapa haka at Te Matatini as it will be his second ‘Ride for Talei.’
"It’s hard work, tough, but the kaupapa carries you through,” Robson says.