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The running joke is that if members drop below 100kg you've become too fit and are risking being kicked out of the Hundy Club.

There are other funnies that go through the Ngati Porou Hauora-supported initiative which sees the seriously big run themselves over tribal maunga on the East Coast in an effort to improve their health and wellbeing.

Sports psychologist Dr Ihirangi Heke says running up or cycling down mountains such as Hikurangi and Titirangi is enough of a battle without overly worrying about "a diet".

"We say if that's mentioned you've got to go home and have a peanut slab straight away. We use chocolate as a currency amongst us. On a run we'll carry some so at the end of it we can celebrate."

Nearly a year old, the club started when Dr Heke was approached by a couple who wanted to run a marathon. Since last April, about 20 have gone from puffing through a 20-minute jog to a 3-hour run up Hikurangi and 10km cycle down, a 25km training run and running through an alpine pass.

Uphill exercise can cut down the amount of kilometres needed to achieve results by increasing a workout intensity, while better looking after joints, Dr Heke said.

"If you think about big fellas, part of what happens is you get a massive amount of impact through the joints. You can't sustain [exercise] for very long because of your size.

"What happens is you go out and run on the flat and you've got to run two hours to get the equivalent of 40 minutes up a hill."

But while the health benefits have seen some participants drop 15kg or more, Ngati Porou people were also reconnecting with their land, he said.

"I said to them, 'You fellas mihi to [acknowledge] your maunga in all your mihi whakatau [speeches] and so on but how well do you actually know your maunga?' That's kind of wrong. So how do you fix that? They live right next to it but they don't use it."

Rediscovery means learning how the land changed after heavy or light rain, knowing where the windy sections were and where to hide out when the weather gets a bit rough.

"They know the place a lot more intimately ... that's a good thing."

The club's fundamental motivator was about preventing serious health issues, a philosophy he wanted more hauora to adopt.