Sport | Rotorua

60th Rotorua Marathon runners to receive commemorative medals

Runners at next year’s 60th Rotorua Marathon will receive a commemorative medal that tells the story of the lake they will run around in May.

The medal, designed by Rotorua-based ringa toi Te Wehi Preston, depicts Mokoia Island in the centre, emblazoned with a puhoro design.

Preston says having Mokoia as the centre of the design is symbolic of the island being a traditional compass point for the iwi and hapū who have lived along the lake’s shores for generations.

“Ko Mokoia te mea ka kitea, ahakoa ka haere koe ki hea i a koe e huri haere ana, e omaoma haere ana i te roto nei.”

(Mokoia is the constant sight wherever you go on the run around the lake.)

“Ka mutu, he nui tonu ngā kōrero e hāngai tonu ana ki te moutere rā.”

(Also, there are many stories and legends that relate to that island.)

One of the more famous stories involving Mokoia is that of Hinemoa and Tūtanekai, which is represented by the two puhoro.

“Ko tētahi o ngā puhoro e aupiki ana, ko tētahi e auheke ana. Tētahi e ara i te Rāwhiti, tētahi e heke ki tērā atu taha. Ērā puhoro e tohu ana i te arohanui i waenganui i te tokorua rā, tērā tērā. Ērā puhoro e kōrero ana mō te aupiki me te auheke o ngā āhuatanga i roto i te oranga o te tangata, tētahi atu anō kōrero e kōrero ana mō te kauwae runga mō te kauwae raro.”

(One of those puhoro is rising and the other is descending. One lifts towards the east and the other draws in the other direction. Those puhoro are symbolic of the love between Hinemoa and Tūtanekai. They also talk about the highs and lows we as people go through in life and, finally, they also represent the traditional understanding of celestial knowledge and terrestrial knowledge.)

The design also incorporates the mangōpare and mangopae designs, representing two of the kaitiaki believed to have accompanied Te Arawa on its journey to Aotearoa.

Preston says it has been an honour to design the medals for such a milestone event - but, more importantly, he is thankful event organisers have been open to hearing and learning the history of the area, and have a deeper understanding of the historic connection the many iwi and hapū have to the many landmarks and points along the course.

“One of the biggest things that can be applauded here is their apporach, their willingness to sit back and to listen and to be directed and to ensure Māori are involved into the processes and the creating of tohu that reflect the surroundings and the Rotorua community.”

Another feature of the design is a series of patterns below Mokoia, the whakarare, reflecting the ripples of the water symbolising the many bays and villages found around the entire lake.

Even the number 60 on the medal has a symbolic touch to it with both digits featuring teeth-marks of a whale, a reference to the tale of Tinirau and his pet whale, Tutunui, who was killed and eaten by Kae. Mokoia is also known by the name Te Motutapu a Tinirau.

The 60th running of the Rotorua Marathon will take place over the first weekend of May next year.