Te Arawa stories will be at the fore of a new activation to get more people walking and biking on the city’s shared footpaths and roads.
Healthy Families Rotorua lead systems innovator, Pirihira Whata, has joined forces with Rotorua Lakes Council’s Safe & Sustainable Journeys team on a kaupapa which will take participants on a guided cycle tour through the city while listening to Te Arawa pūrākau.
“The council team is really pushing for this kaupapa to be iwi-led to create an authentic experience. They invited me to come on board as an iwi connector due to the strong relationships Healthy Families Rotorua has with local iwi. My role is to get all the right players in the same room so we can mobilise this kaupapa to fit local cultural, social, and environmental conditions.
“It’s not only a great opportunity to co-design a space in our built environment for active transport but also incorporate iwi participation and leadership to create healthy environments,” says Pirihira.
RLC Safe & Sustainable Journeys coordinator, Rachel Doelman, says establishing a local bike ride influenced by local pūrākau has been on her radar since attending a conference in Christchurch a few years ago. A presenter from Toi Tangata spoke on how they facilitated an Atua Matua wānanga with whānau from Waiwhetu Marae in Lower Hutt and enabled the people to cycle while engaging in mōteatea.
“Instead of the event being predominantly about cycling, they wanted to tell a story first, so the biking was secondary. They mountain biked the Remutaka Cycle Trail and camped overnight on the Wairarapa coastline, before riding back again. A lot of the participants hadn’t ridden in years and the accomplishment blew them away so much that they’ve continued biking,” says Rachel.
She says Council is committed to its partnership with Te Arawa, and she is confident Rotorua people will enjoy reconnecting with their bikes while learning more about the city’s rich cultural heritage.
“We want to tell Te Arawa stories, so it’s important to have the right people, like Piri, to connect us with the right people with knowledge to share,” says Rachel.
RLC Bikes in Schools & Active Modes facilitator, Georgie Griffiths, says Rotorua has numerous locations where the project could be successfully delivered.
“Not everyone rides for the same reason, so our team explores different approaches to meet these various needs, such as health benefits and cost savings. This project responds to our city’s cultural values. Rotorua is so rich in stories, it seems to naturally align. The possibilities are endless,” says Georgie.