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Erina Wehi-Barton

She’s conquered the Great Wall Marathon, hauled herself around the Hawaiian Marathon and now has her sights set on the top of the world.

Intrepid Home Based Learning (HBL) kaitiaki Erina Wehi-Barton is hard into her training schedule ahead of her mission to make it to Everest Base Camp in Nepal in September.

“Actually, I want to go a wee bit higher than base camp,” she says.

“I looked at going to the summit but it costs too much.”

Erina heads to Nepal on September 20 and starts her trek two days later. To prepare for the arduous trek, she has a specialised training programme to get her body used to carrying heavy loads at altitude.

“I’ve got a mask that makes it like I’m training at 3000 feet above sea level and I’m training with sandbags in my pack. I’ve got to be able to carry 30kg up the maunga.”

She’s also been paying attention to her diet and says finding healthy and nutritious food along the way could be a challenge so she’s stocked up with two weeks of freeze dried ration packs, which provide hearty meals simply by adding hot water.

“They only serve stuff like maize and lentils and beans so I’ve got to sort out my nutrition, but at least I’ll be skinny at the end of it.”

Erina says she tackles challenges such as this because it sets a good example to her whānau, hapu, iwi and community.

She will also be setting a good example to Nepalese children by spending time working in schools in Namche Bazaar - the village which is a starting point for most treks to Everest Base Camp - and providing them with stationery supplies from home.

“I’m going to do a pencil drop up there. People can drop pencils off at Maniapoto FM in Te Kuiti. Whānau can write a note to the Nepalese tauira and I’ll take them with me.”

Before she goes, Erina says she will continue working for her tauira and is busy helping the community rally around those less fortunate.

Last weekend she helped organise a mini-triathlon day in Te Kuiti to help raise money for families living with physical impairment.

“We helped raise a bit of pūtea to help Māori whānau access things like horse riding or swimming lessons for people who were physically impaired. We had 14 families sign up for the mini-triathlon.”

When she returns from the Himalayas, she won’t be resting on her laurels either, as she begins planning to tackle the Big Five Marathon in Africa next year.

“The Big Five was meant to be this year but I’ll do it next year to fit in with a friend of mine who is working at a school in Zimbabwe. She asked if I’d do a couple of weeks in the village and at the school.”’

But while she’s helping people from Nepal to Zimbabwe, Erina retains a firm grip on where home is.

“Te Kuiti of course, it’s the centre of the world.”

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