The legend of Houtaewa is relived every year by Northern Maori Tribes. In tradition, Houtaewa was the fastest athlete of the Northern Maori tribes, and he faced and won the challenge of out-running his enemies along the famous 90 Mile Beach.
Today his feat is marked by the annual Houtaewa Challenge. In March each year athletes from around the world gather to compete in the Ultra Marathon, Marathon, and half Marathon at 90 Mile Beach. Traditional Maori arts & crafts and racing surf canoes combine to provide a spectacular event for the Top of the North of New Zealand.
Te Houtaewa was a chief of the Te Aupouri tribe who was known as the fastest runner of his time.
The race commemorates the time when he stole kumara, or sweet potato from the Te Rarawa tribe, and out-ran his enemies on 90 Mile Beach - while carrying two kete (flax baskets) filled with kai (food) for his mother’s hangi, or earth oven.
Te Aupouri is the name given to the northernmost Maori iwi or tribe in New Zealand - the name means "dark smoke".
Notable Te Aupouri hapu or descendants include acclaimed New Zealand artist Shane Hotere and retired New Zealand Warriors rugby league player Stacey Jones, widely acknowledged as one of the greatest ever league players.