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Encouraging whānau to be physically active in Taranaki

Two community-focused triathlons have taken place in Taranaki thanks to an NZCT grant of $3,120 towards running costs.

Nganahau-ā-Uru Trust has run the Taranaki Toa Mounga Tri Series since 2017. This year’s triathlons in Waitara and Opunake saw 290 people participate individually or as part of a team over the short or long courses. Both towns have significant levels of deprivation and high Māori populations. The entry-level triathlons aim to encourage whānau to be physically active and to pursue a hauora (healthy) lifestyle.

Māori are the target audience for the triathlons, as they are over-represented in poor health statistics like obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Although there is a focus on encouraging Māori to participate, the events are open to everyone who wishes to participate.

“Many of our participants are from lower socio-economic backgrounds, so we make a huge effort to keep registration costs as low as we can to enable participation,” says Nganahau-ā-Uru Trust Chairperson Alf Robson. “The NZCT grant enables us to do this. The Taranaki Toa Mounga Tri Series is a ‘no frills’ event but is incredibly inspiring, with a lot of the emphasis placed on participation, rather than competition. It’s all about getting ordinary people who have been inactive for a period of time to make an extraordinary effort to complete an entry-level, short-course triathlon.”

Running the event within the Taranaki community helps minimise the cost of registration and travel, so whānau can participate locally, while still ensuring health and safety standards. The recent NZCT grant has gone towards road and traffic management costs, venue and equipment hire, first-aid provision and equipment purchase.

As well as the participants, the triathlons strongly engage with a number of local volunteers and organisations. “We are really pleased with the numbers participating, and the feedback from the community and participants has been fantastic,” says Alf.

A priority for the Nganahau-ā-Uru Trust is ensuring the triathlons remain as low-cost to participants as possible. This means that the main forms of financial support for the triathlons are through grants and donations.

“NZCT has been great to work with and we’ve been incredibly fortunate to have the relationship we have,” says Alf. “Their support enables us to do what we do, and we look forward to continuing the relationship into the future.”

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