Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

700km Polynesian Cycling Celebration launches in Mangere

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

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Anauli Karima Fai'ai | Reporter/Director

Cycling groups, USO Bike Ride and Mangere Bikefit, have begun the first leg of their Polynesian Cycling Celebration, with a 130 km ride from Mangere to Hamilton.

The celebration officially launched in Mangere on Thursday, hosted by Mangere Bikefit founder Teau Aiturau who will take his electric bike on the 700 km journey.

USO Bike Ride has done several long rides over the last decade, including two tip-to-toe New Zealand rides in 2012 and 2016 and one around the East Coast in 2017.

Ie’u Tuiavii, a senior member of the group, says the partnership with Mangere Bikefit is key to raising health and wellbeing awareness in Pasifika communities.

“I think it’s important for our communities to see different people, different sizes, different ages because we all get inspired by different things.”

Tuiavii says his training was thwarted by several outside factors but is looking forward to engaging with Pasifika communities.

“It’s more off the bike that I know I can contribute to the community events we’re having along the way, so I am not shy to sing out loud or haka hard, so that’s my part in it.”

Nicola McGrath, a teacher by trade, joined USO Bike Ride to spread cancer awareness after her husband died from a brain tumour. 

“I am looking forward to connecting with the schools, being on the other side [and] not on the bike, supporting our team that way. Really looking forward to the community side of things.”

She was meant to be riding with the group, but withdrew recently and will be cheering from the sidelines as part of the support crew instead.

“[For] the last year, I have been training for this ride, and two weeks ago, I had a health issue with my heart, so I am going to step back and support the crew going forward.”

Fellow USO veteran, Ioana Kosena, says it has been a privilege to cycle with the group because of the impact that it has had on Pasifika communities.

“It’s part of the core around the reason why we ride – particularly myself. I find that personally there’s nothing more exhilarating than trying to be an example,” he says.

“Auckland and Mangere have been the capital of the Pacific, and our reach is towards the Pacific peoples, so to have a couple of the local boys from Mangere join us, that’s exciting.”

The ride will finish in Porirua on November 11th.

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