Wāhine sign up to Rotorua Marathon to promote whānau health and wellbeing

By Herewini Waikato

A group of 11 women took up the challenge of the 57th Rotorua Marathon this year to promote health and wellbeing among whānau.

They decided to run the 10km course because Māori have poor health status compared with non-Māori.

Te Aorangi Mako's inspiration was also seeing her sister go through heart surgery last year. Her sister also challenged her and others of the whānau to get serious about their health and encouraged them to join this year's Rotorua Marathon.

“Completing it is the main thing,”  Mako says.

In New Zealand, Māori people have the worst health inequality of any group. Māori die sooner, and get sicker than Pākehā counterparts.

These women say they are ending that cycle and encouraging others to do the same.

'Get active'

Te Aorangi’s niece, Te Mihiroa Wright, who also did the marathon, knows Māori health is not as good as non- Māori.  “We Māori face many health issues, and also with the hospitals' inequalities and health system.”

 Rotorua Marathon organiser Murray Fleeming is happy with the turnout of more than 4000 competitors this year, compared with last years 1,600. Last year this event was on when Aucklanders were unable to move out of their area due to a lockdown.

The event features a 40km marathon renowned for its iconic Lake Rotorua route, with a half marathon of 10km and  5.5km run also. 

This year's winner was local Michael Voss, who finished the marathon at two hours and 29 minutes.

”No matter how big or small, get out and get active with your family," Mako says. "Swim, start that health journey.”

These women have finished what they started. Now they will train for next year's Rotorua Marathon for the 40km race.