Kick-starting the year with a bang

By Anne-Marie Emerson

Persistent questions by passers-by have enticed a Maori martial arts group to go public with its activities.

Aka Whanganui Aotea is a Maori martial arts group founded in 1991 by a respected Whanganui kaumatua, the late John Tahuparae. It is described as a mixture of kapa haka, haka and taiaha.

Aka Whanganui Aotea pouwhenua [senior instructor] Piripi Menehira said the 30-strong group had been getting into post-Christmas training for the past few weeks, and found themselves answering questions from interested passersby.

"So we decided to start a community education programme for the month of February."

The programme, called Kickstart 2013, will be run at Lundon Park, Castlecliff.

Mr Menehira said the programme would run every Monday, Wednesday and Friday and was open to any member of the community. He said it was suitable for those who were very unfit, through to people who were wanting to do pre-season training for winter sports.

"It's a chance to get off the couch and do something. Every level of fitness is welcome - we have low and slow, intermediate and high impact."

Mr Menehira has been involved in martial arts, both Maori and traditional, for more than 20 years and has been inducted into the New Zealand martial arts hall of fame.

He said doing Maori martial arts was a really good way of keeping fit. "It's good for people who can't afford to go to the gym, or are too shy or too overweight to go to the gym."

Mr Menehira said the eldest member of Aka Whanganui Aotea was 60 while the youngest was just 3 years old.

Among the group is Bernadine Menehira, who said she wanted to get motivated to do something in the new year to look after her health and hauora [well-being].

"I want to get fit for my work, which is with children. And it's just fun and a chance to get some fresh air," Ms Menehira said.

Kickstart 2013 runs every Monday, Wednesday and Friday through February, 5pm-7pm, at Lundon Park, Bryce St, Castlecliff. Everyone is welcome. Cost is a gold coin donation for each session. The programme is sponsored by Inspire Health & Fitness, Te Oranganui and Awa Sports.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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