Hikoi to support wahine undergoing weight loss surgery

By Jessica Tyson

Kapa, Te Hau Tawhiti, from Australia, have organised a hikoi to support one of their members about to undergo surgery after years of struggling with obesity.

The group, who recently won the 1miriona $10,000 Video Challenge, will host the hikoi in support of Waitapu Moka before she undergoes gastric bypass surgery.

“It’s going to be quite challenging but emotionally," Moka told te Kāea.

“I’m feeling really overwhelmed and humbled by everybody that’s pulling through for the kaupapa.  It’s making me a lot more accountable for the whole hikoi and my new journey ahead.”

Te Hau Tawhiti. Photo source: Waitapu Moka

Moka, of Ngāpuhi, was recently referred to a paediatric surgeon after a doctor became concerned about her weight.

Member of Te Hau Tawhiti, Ngahuia Maniapoto says, “The journey will be tough so we want to do this to be there for her, to show our support and just get behind her.”

Maniapoto says Moka has a few goals she’s wanted to achieve and being overweight has been a barrier.

“Being involved in kapa haka has been a driving force for her to improve certain areas of her lifestyle such as health, hauora, exercising and eating the right kai.  So, this is only a step towards bettering that lifestyle for her.”

Photo source: Waitapu Moka

The hikoi, dubbed #W4W Walk 4 Waitapu, will take place at Mount Ngungun in the Glasshouse Mountains, Queensland.

“It’ll be a 2.5km hike one way and we hope to see the sun rise and have karakia before we leave,” says Maniapoto.

Meanwhile, whānau around Australia and New Zealand will take part in their own hikoi in support.

Photo source: Waitapu Moka

After the surgery, Moka has been told by her dietician that she'll lose weight rapidly.

“I need to maintain some muscle so I do plan on going swimming because I’m a water rat.  I love swimming,” she says.

She also plans to get her whānau on the kaupapa, eating well and making good decisions to stay healthy.

“This [surgery] is mainly to live a longer and happier life and to start a whānau of my own," she says.