The Legend of Te Houtaewa
The story behind the challenge revolves around Te Houtaewa who was the fastest runner of his day.
One morning, when his mother wanted kumara for the hangi (earth oven), she asked Te Houtaewa to go to the gardens at Te Kao, a short distance away.
Te Houtaewa agreed to fetch the kumara and told his mother to prepare the hangi; but, instead of going to the local gardens, Te Houtaewa set off for Ahipara where he wanted to annoy some Te Rarawa people.
Carrying two large baskets (kete) for the kumara, Te Houtaewa ran like a hare over the hard sands of Te Oneroa a Tohe (90 Mile Beach), completing the journey in the few hours it takes to heat a good hangi.
On reaching Ahipara, Te Houtaewa went straight to the kumara pataka (storehouse for sweet potatoes) located at the foot of the hill Wangatauatia.
While Te Houtaewa was filling his baskets with kumara, he was spotted with the kai (food) and immediately recognised: "It is he, Te Houtaewa.
Te Houtaewa stood up with one kete in each hand. Looking around he saw a line of people blocking his way to the beach. Quickly he ran in the opposite direction up hill; not knowing his intentions, the people ran after him.
As Te Houtaewa ran, the blockade which had been formed against him was broken and the ranks were opened. He turned and waited for the oncoming host then, as his pursuers drew close, he rushed back down the hill sending his opponents sprawling as he headed for the beach.
The Te Rarawa people were so astonished that they forgot to reform their barricade and, before they could do anything to stop him, Te Houtaewa - still bearing his baskets of kumara - had reached the beach and the road home.
Angry at being fooled by Te Houtaewa, the Te Rarawa people sent their best runners after him. But Te Houtaewa continued to speed along the hard sand, even though he was slowing down under his heavy load.
"Yes, he must be tiring, carrying those heavy baskets of kumara," his pursuers thought as two of their fastest runners separated from the band and drew close to the wily athlete.
Te Houtaewa put down his baskets of kumara and prepared again to face them.
When he reached home, Te Houtaewa found his mother waiting with the hangi, ready. She did not know what her extraordinary son had been doing during the time he had been away.
Shane Cooper & Hinerangi Waikai
2014 RACE RESULTS click here.