The news that the highly successful Ironmaori Hawke's Bay is going international, with an event to be held in Australia this year, is fantastic.
The half-ironman event was started by Heather Te Au-Skipworth and the Te Timatanga Ararau Trust in 2009. By anyone's standards it has been a phenomenal success.
The original aim of the event's naming was to get Maori people exercising, and health statistics in the province moving in the right direction. It was never exclusively for Maori as anyone was welcome to enter. And enter they have - in very large numbers indeed.
I don't think the organisers were expecting it to become as popular as it is. However, I am sure they are delighted and it has achieved huge status in Hawke's Bay as an event the family can be involved in. The main thing is that it is getting people off their couches. Although there is a competitive element to the Ironmaori events, many people are competing against themselves and doing it for health reasons.
The fact that there is now an opportunity to hold the event in Australia shows that it works. The Trust announced yesterday that the event will be held on the Gold Coast of Australia in June. Not only that but there is also talk of a new event in Taranaki in March or April. Already the Ironmaori brand consists of a duathlon in Wellington in September, quarter-ironman, held at Pandora Pond for the first time last November, and what will be the fifth Ironmaori Hawke's Bay half-ironman in December.
Last year's half-ironman was so successful it sold out in minutes and for this reason a second Ironmaori Hawke's Bay will be held next January, accompanied by an Ironmaori Kaumatua event.
The growth of Ironmaori has been amazing considering 288 people participated in the first event in 2009 and more than 2000 people competed in last month's event.
The organisers of Ironmaori Hawke's Bay deserve all the praise they get for the fantastic work they have done. The lesson is quite simple - if you have a well-organised, appealing event, the people will participate.
And it is a good thing, because literally lives depended on it.