Maori leader learns more from failures than successes

A year into running, spin, core and step classes has a group of grass roots fitness buffs transforming their lives.

IronMaori Ki Hawera Whanau Training and Support was formed to create a family-based, non-judgmental environment to support all levels, sizes and ages.

Each member is supported in achieving their own goals while aiming for events such as IronMaori Taranaki, hosted in Hawera, or other sporting events.

Many of its members have already competed in the triathlon-based event, with 65 going to race in the quarter IronMaori in Napier and eight preparing for Ironmam NZ.

Now they are sharing their stories, in a partnership with the Taranaki Star, to help inspire others to get off the couch and get fit.

When Debbie Ngarewa-Packer looks back she recalls spending much of her adult life in an era when if you were a mother with career aspirations you worked twice as hard as everyone else to prove your worth.

“I did my Masters off-shore when my youngest was six months old, so in amongst all that I lost my balance to putting my wellbeing first,” Ngarewa-Packer said. “I was fortunate that my family always had great health and fitness leadership; however as great as that positive influence was I really struggled to let go of workaholic habits, bad eating and inconsistent training.”

Participating in IronMaori was the event that really bought about awareness for her.

“I think because I am social by nature I gravitate towards like minded people. People like Heather Skipworth founder of IronMaori and this environment encouraged me to put goals in front of myself. Some goals were achieved and some I did not. However, as bizarre as this sounds I learnt more from my failures than my successes. Something clicked and before I knew it, I was eating better because I wanted to move better.”

“After participating in a few IronMaori events I went over to IronMaori Kahungunu and saw first-hand the benefits of group training at their IronMaori Gym and the positive impact it was having on whanau that needed it most.”

Ngarewa-Packer returned home, approached like minded people and created Ki Whanau Gym with the support of South Taranaki IronMaori whanau.

“There is nothing more gratifying than seeing people transform their lives for the better. Whether you are a workaholic looking for balance or a busy mum or a hardworking man – our health is our wealth and it is important to put it first.”

Training became her saviour, helping to relieve stress and remain upbeat.  “Most of my creative or innovative ideas have come when I’m training.

“I met up with a great bunch of people who became Whanau and together we achieved goals.” 

At a personal level, the best part of this whole journey for  Ngarewa-Packer is seeing her daughters, whanau, staff and community making positive lifestyle changes.

Aside from training she mentors others, preparing newbies for quarter and half IronMaori and sharing her life’s experiences; creating great vibes within a space to train in.

“I guess I first started this training journey thinking this will be my way to lose weight. But in reality I found myself and a whole new group of wonderful people. After years of giving to everyone else first and putting others opinions of my life first – I’ve now learnt to like myself and Strive for balance.”

Her advice is: life is too short, be true to yourself and have the courage to live how you want to; it’s worth it.

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