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After 10 days and more than 200 kilometres courtesy of the 'waewae express', Te Aorere Pēwhairangi (Ngāti Porou) has completed his Waewae The 35 hīkoi to raise awareness and pūtea for whānau on the East Coast affected by the devastating impact of Cyclone Gabrielle.
Pēwhairangi, who walked the length of State Highway 35 from Gisborne to Wharekāhika (Hicks Bay), using the Ngāti Porou tribal boundaries as a guide, finished the last leg of the hīkoi on Saturday.
He simply said, "Done".
In the process, Pēwhairangi raised more than $90,000 through a Givealittle campaign and received the thanks and praise of many.
"What an achievement! Not just bringing awareness to the plight of your people along the 35, but also their resilience!
"Te kotahi a Paikea ka horu te moana, ko Porourangi ki uta e ngāueue ai te whenua," wrote one person on social media.
"You’ve done our iwi proud. Thank you for the distraction and the reality of what we have to face going forward; now you’ve seen it, you’ve felt it, but you're doing something about it," another said.
While the hīkoi is done now, Pēwhairangi added that "there is still a long road ahead".
Along the way, Pēwhairangi's haerenga saw him visit Whāngārā, Uawa (Tologa Bay), Tokomaru Bay, Ruatōria, Tikitiki, Te Araroa and Wharekāhika.
Before he set out, Pēwhairangi told Te Ao Māori News the most important part of the hīkoi was to bring awareness to the severity of the situation, with help needed to get the affected East Coast regions back on their feet.
“I guess the motivation behind it was my whānau in Tokomaru Bay. They've been isolated since the cyclone on one end and the Hikuwai Bridge has fallen into the river. And on the other end, the state highway has fallen into Mangahauini and my cousin had to start a school in her carport for the kids who live in Tokomaru but go to school in places like Gisborne, Ruatoria and Uawa.”