As many as 2000 people descended on the isolated North Hokianga settlement of Pawarenga on Monday for a day of sporting challenges and catching up with whānau from the hapū Te Uri o Tai. The event, held every year on December 31, is also a successful fundraiser paying for the upkeep of Pawarenga's three marae. Photos by Peter de Graaf.

To read more about the United Marae Sports Day go to Hapū sees out 2018 with day of sporting challenges.

Chelsea MacAlister of Okaihau takes an early lead on Done Deal in the Pawarenga Cup, one of many beach horse races held during Monday's United Marae Sports Day. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Chelsea MacAlister of Okaihau takes an early lead on Done Deal in the Pawarenga Cup, one of many beach horse races held during Monday's United Marae Sports Day. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Chelsea MacAlister of Okaihau with Done Deal, owned by Drew Rihari, after winning the hotly contested Pawarenga Cup. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Chelsea MacAlister of Okaihau with Done Deal, owned by Drew Rihari, after winning the hotly contested Pawarenga Cup. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Horses thunder down the beach in the Emma Hetaraka Memorial women's race. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Horses thunder down the beach in the Emma Hetaraka Memorial women's race. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Chad Scrivener of Broadwood (left) takes an early lead in the Dollar Murray and Harold Leef Memorial Race. Scrivener eventually finished second. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Chad Scrivener of Broadwood (left) takes an early lead in the Dollar Murray and Harold Leef Memorial Race. Scrivener eventually finished second. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Chad Scrivener of Broadwood (left) takes an early lead in the Dollar Murray and Harold Leef Memorial Race. Scrivener eventually finished second. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Chad Scrivener of Broadwood (left) takes an early lead in the Dollar Murray and Harold Leef Memorial Race. Scrivener eventually finished second. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Big queues form as the hangi arrives at the sports grounds. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Big queues form as the hangi arrives at the sports grounds. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Adele Brits and her horse Smokey from Rangiahua compete in the barrel race. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Adele Brits and her horse Smokey from Rangiahua compete in the barrel race. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Bronson Pirini of Pawarenga and his horse Manny compete in the barrel race. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Bronson Pirini of Pawarenga and his horse Manny compete in the barrel race. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Hendrik Korewha of Rawene competes in the stockman's whip event. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Hendrik Korewha of Rawene competes in the stockman's whip event. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Hendrik Korewha of Rawene competes in the stockman's whip event. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Hendrik Korewha of Rawene competes in the stockman's whip event. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Okaihau rider Sammy Johnson might be 79 but he's still competitive in the stockman's whip event. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Okaihau rider Sammy Johnson might be 79 but he's still competitive in the stockman's whip event. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Ready, set, go! The Iron Kids race gets underway. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Ready, set, go! The Iron Kids race gets underway. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Twelve-year-old Tiaki Henry, of Whangārei, puts on a final burst of speed to claim first place in the Iron Kids race for 9-12 year olds. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Twelve-year-old Tiaki Henry, of Whangārei, puts on a final burst of speed to claim first place in the Iron Kids race for 9-12 year olds. Photo / Peter de Graaf
A typical sports day scene with St Gabriel's Catholic Church in the background. Photo / Peter de Graaf
A typical sports day scene with St Gabriel's Catholic Church in the background. Photo / Peter de Graaf
The popular Pawarenga T-shirts are the sports day's biggest fundraiser. Photo / Peter de Graaf
The popular Pawarenga T-shirts are the sports day's biggest fundraiser. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Kaitaia's Rongo Bentson rarely misses a chance to take photos and catch up with old mates at the United Marae Sports Day. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Kaitaia's Rongo Bentson rarely misses a chance to take photos and catch up with old mates at the United Marae Sports Day. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Jesse Whitehead, of Taranaki, emerges from the mud of Whangape Harbour to claim the Iron Man title for the fourth year in a row. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Jesse Whitehead, of Taranaki, emerges from the mud of Whangape Harbour to claim the Iron Man title for the fourth year in a row. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Tangaroa Herbert, 14, from Pawarenga, emerges from the mud at the end of the gruelling Iron Man race. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Tangaroa Herbert, 14, from Pawarenga, emerges from the mud at the end of the gruelling Iron Man race. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Fourteen-year-old Tangaroa Herbert, from Pawarenga, is a little muddy after the last leg of the Iron Man race took him through the Whangape Harbour mudflats. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Fourteen-year-old Tangaroa Herbert, from Pawarenga, is a little muddy after the last leg of the Iron Man race took him through the Whangape Harbour mudflats. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Pawarenga 14-year-old Pouaka Skinner and his horse Stunner won the grueling cross-country race in only his second year competing. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Pawarenga 14-year-old Pouaka Skinner and his horse Stunner won the grueling cross-country race in only his second year competing. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Elsewhere flooding of the sports grounds might be seen as a problem; in Pawarenga it's an opportunity for a new kind of race. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Elsewhere flooding of the sports grounds might be seen as a problem; in Pawarenga it's an opportunity for a new kind of race. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Competitors feel the pain in the women's tug 'o war. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Competitors feel the pain in the women's tug 'o war. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Competitors take the strain in the men's tug 'o war. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Competitors take the strain in the men's tug 'o war. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Kaharau Pickering (right) feels the strain competing for the Tana Pickering team in the tug 'o war. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Kaharau Pickering (right) feels the strain competing for the Tana Pickering team in the tug 'o war. Photo / Peter de Graaf