Māori competitors vie to retain 'Battle of the Fittest' title

By Wepiha Te Kanawa

The Battle of the Fittest is the competition to find New Zealand's fittest man and woman. For the past two years Māori have held this title and this year another Māori hopes to keep that legacy alive.

It's one of the toughest competitions in New Zealand, both physically and mentally, combining strength and cardio all in one.

For first-time competitor Stacey Lee-Siataga, she says this is the hardest competition she has ever done.

“It was definitely an upper-body colour, those shoulder to overhead going into the double-unders was quite intense on the upper-body,” says Ms Lee-Siataga.

Ngāti Tūwharetoa's Aaron James was New Zealand's fittest man in 2012.  He says the competition this year is the highest it's ever been.

“A lot of these guys are at the top of their game for Crossfit and that's what it takes, just dedication,” he says.

Last year, Mahdi Te Heuheu from Taupō took out the title of New Zealand's Fittest Man.  This year Tūhoe's Joe McCormack wants Māori to hold on to the title.

According to Joe Cormack, “Everybody's got the talent but I think our Māori brothers and sister can throw down and give the world stage a crack.”

Cormack says he has a good chance to gain a top spot.  “First day I went fairly well, I came second.  Yesterday my cold caught up with me a little bit but that's no excuse.  I went up the ladder, came down the ladder, went back up the ladder it's good, that's the way the point system is and we will see how today goes.”