Tracing the trails of our ancestors

From geyser to volcano, 1000 runners and walkers set off from Te Puia this weekend in a race like no other – the Tarawera Trail Marathon and 50km.

From geyser to volcano, 1000 runners and walkers set off from Te Puia this weekend in a race like no other – the Tarawera Trail Marathon and 50km.


Starting under our world famous Pohutu Geyser in Te Whakarewarewa Valley and finishing at Lake Tarawera’s Hot Water Beach, the Tarawera Trail Marathon retraced the reverse journey of our ancestors - the Tūhourangi people.

After the devastating 1886 Mount Tarawera eruption destroyed the Pink and White Terraces and everything else within its reach, the surviving Tūhourangi tribe members travelled here to Te Whakarewarewa Valley to live alongside the Ngāti Whakaue people.

Te Whakarewarewa Valley’s tourism legacy began almost 200 years ago, and once joined by the Tūhourangi people it gained strength, cementing our guiding philosophy of manaakitanga (hosting) – a legacy upheld to this day.

Te Puia | New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute (NZMACI) general manager sales and marketing, Kiri Atkinson-Crean says the Tarawera Trail Marathon and 50km has particular significance for Te Puia | NZMACI and its people, going far beyond the physical start line in the valley.

“Tracing the trail of some of the Valley’s ancestors, the Tarawera Trail Marathon and 50km brings to life the significant journey that helped shape Rotorua tourism into what it is today.”

While being entertained by Pohutu Geyser’s impressive 30 metre eruptions, athletes also received a stirring traditional farewell with a kapa haka performance that ignited fire in the belly.

Tarawera Trail Marathon and 50km event organiser, Paul Charteris, says the partnership with Te Puia adds a cultural richness to the event, showcasing geothermal wonders as well as Māori arts and crafts and culture.

“Without a doubt, we have the most amazing start line on the planet and athletes from around the world came to experience it,” Mr Charteris says.

“A traditionally carved trophy, made by NZMACI, was also awarded to the champion. The trophy design acknowledged the key Māori ancestral sites visited throughout the race, as well as recognising the commitment and hard work of the athletes.”

Ms Atkinson-Crean says Te Puia is proud to support to support inspirational events, like the Tarawera Trail Marathon and 50km, as it helps strengthen Rotorua’s brand as an outstanding place to live work and play.

“Our experience with last year’s event and its sister event, the Tarawera Ultra, has shown us that the athletes and supporters wholly embrace their surrounding cultural and physical environment, including our culture, craft and people.

“These people came here to experience everything our region has to offer and it is was the perfect opportunity for Rotorua to shine.”

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