SOCIAL ENTERPRISE IS THE HEART OF WHAT WE DO
IT'S ALL ABOUT THE COMMUNITY
The MDA Experiences Whanau have been active members in community service projects since its inception in 1989. Whether it be social or environmental initiatives, we pride ourselves on being strong advocates of Kaitiakitanga.
Everybody remembers the day they got their first bike. You remember it too. It inspired your sense of freedom and independence. Learning to ride a bike provides a child with a rewarding self-guided activity, a feeling of accomplishment that boosts self-esteem and shows that anything is possible if you work at it.
An international programme introduced in New Zealand called Share the Ride is helping to give economically disadvantaged Rotorua kids the chance to embrace these benefits.
Over 10 weeks, children learn riding skills, first aid skills, history of the forest, trail etiquette, bike maintenance, and tackle a range of mountain biking trails. In return for their dedication, they’re rewarded at Crankworx with brand new Giant bikes and Bell helmets thanks to Share the Ride donations.
Even in a place like Rotorua where "everyone mountain bikes" it's easily missed that the demographic enjoying the experience is often quite narrow. Share the Ride makes it possible to reach out further into the wider community cultivating growth at the real grassroots. It not only shares the simple pleasures mountain biking can provide, but also means kids have the means to pedal their way to school and leisure activities, encouraging alternate carbon free forms of transportation. Cycling as a physical activity also provides children with an enjoyable form of physical fitness that not only helps develop motor skills, but when they ride with others, much needed social skills as well.
Since 2015, the MDA Experiences team have worked with over 50 families to Share the Ride and look forward to bringing even more people in to the mountain bike community.
SHARE THE RIDE WITH WHANAU
Since 2015, MDA Experiences and MTB Rotorua have been providing a unique opportunity for Rotorua Schools. Every year, Tak and Tu Mutu select one of the regions schools and offer the chance for EVERY student at the school to go mountain biking in the world famous forest. This has seen over 1000 students enjoy the delights of the riding on some of the worlds best trails at no cost to the schools or students.
SHARE THE RIDE IN SCHOOLS
Cousin to owners Takurua and Tuhua Mutu, local Tuhourangi/Ngati Whakaue and downhill mountain biking champion Tuhoto Ariki Pene was an easy choice to get behind for MDA Experiences and Mountain Bike Rotorua. With a dedication to sport, a humble attitude and skills that compete with the worlds best, this young star is on his way to the top step. Tak and Tu presented a sponsorship deal for Tuhoto and look forward to providing both cash and mentoring to help him reach his goals. Here is what Tuhoto says about himself;
I'm Tuhoto-Ariki and I'm 18 years old currently based in Maketu, New Zealand. Since 2 years old, riding bikes has been my passion from the first moments of swinging a leg over that kids bike! From then on this passion has never stopped and continues greatly to this day and on. Along the way, ever since I was old enough to race in BMX, I have since won multiple NZ titles in junior classes and has taken me to compete at a world championship level internationally.
In preparation for the New Zealand National Series I worked full time 6-8 months prior to be able to afford the expenses of competing at as many rounds as possible. I reaped the benefits and claimed the NZ 2019 National Downhill Series 1st place. Feeling good as I headed into 2019 Crankworx Rotorua with tough competition I walked away with 1st in Dual Slalom, 2nd in Air Downhill and 3rd in Downhill. All the hard work, time and effort put into my riding / racing has resulted with a very successful race in the Junior Elite class recently returning from Bright, Australia as the 2019 U19 Oceania Downhill Champion. With a taste of success and victory, I am hungry for more and ready to take it to the next level!
Last year with my consistent results in riding I was fortunate enough to qualify for UCI MTB World Cup Series 2018. With a lot of fundraising, working and support from my family, friends and sponsors; I was able to compete in multiple Crankworx events, three World Cups and the 2018 UCI MTB World Championships. Returning home as World 7. With my goal being to compete as a pro rider in the future and become a Downhill World Champion.
There has been joy and anticipation this week as selected Rotorua people have come face-to-face with their new set of wheels. Recipients of the Bicycle Recycle initiative have been selected and some are beginning to get their gift. Bicycle Recycle asked people to drop their old bikes into Mountain Bike Rotorua so the bikes could get fixed up and passed on. The Hits then asked people to nominate those who they thought should receive a recycled bike.
Barbara Ward, 71, was one of the many excited recipients. She nominated herself and says she loves the forest and has always loved biking. However, she had recently tried out her cheap bike and it wore her out.
Barbara says she was taken aback when she found out she would be receiving a bike because she did not send in her nomination with much hope. She is very happy with the bike she has received, saying she did not expect one so great. Mountain Bike Rotorua co-owner Tu Mutu says with Barbara they did not have a donated bike suitable for her, so he and his brother Tak donated one from their own company fleet of new hire bikes.
"It has been exciting to see the people's reactions as they have come in to see and retrieve their new bikes.”
- NZME October 2018
BICYCLE RECYCLE PROGRAM
In 2006/07 we started to develop a cultural product for Topdeck (then Connections) to compliment their current activity, Whakarewarewa Thermal Village. Topdeck wanted to provide a real cultural experience that was genuine, immersive and modern. We suggested an overnight Noho Marae that wasn’t about looking at our performing arts but instead offering the opportunity for international visitors to experience being on a real Marae, sleeping communally and sitting with local people to talk about what modern Maori life really is. Being bought up in Rotoiti, it was natural to want to work with Ngati Pikiao first and foremost. We approached four Marae with Taheke (Ngati Hinerangi) being the main venue. Of course, working on real Marae meant we had to have back up for when whanau matters arise and they became unavailable. The promise to the Marae was that we would leave them better then how we arrived and our aim was to envelop regular revenue streams for them, with the idea that they too could one day have commercial assets to derive income from.
This experience proved to be popular, regularly being reviewed as one of the top nights in New Zealand when on the Topdeck tour.
In 2018, we revisited the experience as it had been with us for a long time and we wanted to see if the Iwi was at a point of being ready to take on a commercial venture. We began the process of training (by employment) local Ngati Hinerangi people to take on managing and eventually owning the contract/Noho Marae. This was brought with ups and downs right up until December 2018 when we found stability and a solid team. The next 6 months was spent perfecting the operational arm and helping develop their administration skills. By May 2019, MDA, Ngati Hinerangi and Topdeck were more than confident with the new management team and the Topdeck Noho Marae Contract was formally handed over to the tribe along with the necessary assets to operate (also gifted from MDA).
MDA still do significant work on the Marae, providing anything from intimate exclusive experiences to multi-night wananga for local and international visitors alike. However we are proud of the fact that we have been able to establish a respected product and business and gift it to local Iwi to create employment and profitable opportunities for our people.
On behalf of the Taheke Marae Committee we would like to extend our gratitude and thanks to our MDA whanau (family) who for the past 10 years has helped provide benefits to our marae and our hapu (our people). This help has gone towards maintaining the Marae complex and providing education and employment opportunities for our tribal members. Thank you Tu & Tak for all your efforts in making this social enterprise such a huge success! We are fortunate that your grandmother grew up across the road from the Marae and that you both have a very close and strong connection to the Marae.
- Luke Rikiti - Taheke Marae Committee