Talented youth celebrated at Kawerau King of the Mountain race

  • Waikato/Bay of Plenty

Students from Te Wharekura o Te Whatatau o Pūtauaki joined hundreds of participants in the Prince and Princess section of the King of the Mountain race held in Kawerau.

14 year old Hamiora Hooper is a veteran Prince and Princess runner, but this year he joined the adult section for the first time.

This year marked the 60th Diamond Jubilee anniversary of the event

Lee Barton and his fellow Kawerau King of the Mountain Race organisers work hard to Inspire the new generation of up and coming the King of the Mountain competitors.

“There are about one hundred and twenty children in the school relay and then we have roughly just under two hundred for Prince and Princess of the mountain race and in the main race we have about two hundred as well, “ says Barton.

The King of the Mountain event is not for the faint-hearted, this year, students from the only Māori Medium School in Kawerau, Te Whatatau o Pūtauaki wanted to give the event

Te Whatatau student Whatonga Raki (Ngāti Awa) says, “It's amazing to me, keeping me fit. Each year I'm going to come and run.”

Fellow student Manawa Hoskin (Ngāi Tūhoe) says he enjoys the event because it keeps him fit and is an event his grandmother encourages him to take part in.

At 14 years old, Hamiora Hooper will be competing for the first time with the adults  in The King of the Mountain Race. His father Dean Hooper has participated in the event for the last fifteen years and says he's proud that his son has followed in his footsteps.  

Dean Hooper (Ngāpuhi) says “We've sort of sat down and talked he sort of knows the maunga now so he knows what to do”

Hamiora of Ngāpuhi and Tūhoe says “I'm feeling good confident ready for the mountain”.   

All up the race is around 8km. The start time for adult runners was at midday with the fastest runner coming in at 46 minutes and 10 seconds.

Hamiora Hooper who competed against the adults for the first time this year came in at 1 hour and 7 minutes, the first Kawerau resident to make it back. He was also gifted the Spirit of the Mountain Award in recognition of his dedication and commitment.