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Tairāwhiti Adventure Trust

When Tairāwhiti Adventure Trust’s inaugural AGM began with the clink of a local brew and the self-proclamation of a “rag-tag bunch of misfits”, I knew I wasn’t in your usual corporate boardroom. And herein lies part of what makes the Tairāwhiti Adventure Trust something different and a massive force of action - in all facets of the word.

Rewind to just over a year ago when the now-members were a disparate group of individuals, albeit passionate sporting individuals, with national and international successes to their names, attending a meeting that would catalyse the Tairāwhiti Adventure Trust’s formation.

A facilities workshop was held to assess our region’s sporting facilities with a view to build a business case for investment. It was a joint venture between Sport Gisborne Tairāwhiti, Trust Tairāwhiti and the Gisborne District Council. A consulting firm from Wellington was brought in to frame a business case and it soon became apparent to some of the people at the meeting that there was this “massive hole in it. When we stood up and asked about recreation, we were told ‘there is no recreation within scope’” and that...was seemingly that.

The discussions that followed that meeting, with local skaters, surfers, adventurers and “anyone that didn't have a voice” due to lack of club backing, were the impetus for forming the Tairāwhiti Adventure Trust.

The Trust is a not for profit organisation that lobbies for action, for adventure sporting groups and individuals, to secure funding for facilities and provide pathways for local tamariki and rangatahi wanting more healthy and positive things to do here in the Tairāwhiti. The Trust see themselves as catering to sports that the whole family can enjoy, and providing help to our youth who want to go onto the national or world stage in their chosen, and often these days, Olympic recognised sports.

The Trust forms a club voice for sports without clubs “we add structure to the unstructured; we are breaking the mould of traditional representation”.

Fast forward to the present day and the Trust’s first project, the creation of what will soon be one of Aotearoa’s best and world class Skateparks is well underway, starting with the ‘big bowl’. Concrete is in the ground, with old school pool-style lines, glass-smooth transitions and the highest copings I’ve seen atop concrete waves, ever.

“There’s nothing like this in New Zealand.. nothing” And that actually, is that.

The park has been designed by Rich Landscapes with and by its users, utilising pen on paper expression sessions with local kids, ‘feet on the street’ talk and networking through social media with local skate groups. Liaison is ongoing, “I’m on like heaps of group chats, we’re in continual dialogue with them, it’s not a tick-box” and the kaupapa of the Trust is about “having it owned and operated by the user group, to empower the user group and community, to facilitate and look after that asset because they’re invested in it”.

The ‘first cab off the rank’ is how the Tairāwhiti Adventure Trust describes the model used by Councils around the country when providing community facilities, and the ‘recipe skateparks’ that exist nationwide are but one example of this model.

Instead the Trust has chosen to precipitate a world class facility to attract talent but even more importantly, to support the talent that’s already here. It’s a fairly big undertaking for the Trust’s ‘first cab off the rank’...Peering over the top of the new park’s copings I’m taken back to a time when Steve Caballero pulled the first ‘cab’ off the ramp exactly 40 years ago, and though it won't be me attempting it, I’m sure one will be stomped here at some stage soon.

If you have checked out the photos of the park thus far and are feeling a tad nervous as to the future integrity of your bone structure, fear not, because as the build progresses there will be something usable for anyone willing to self propel their wheels. Watch out too for Aotearoa’s best skaters as they make their way to the country’s latest park - an opportunity for us locals to watch those steep and deep bowls get ripped to proverbial pieces.

Enough to achieve in a year in which the rest of the world stood still? Nope. The Trust’s new pump track build planned for March 2022 is something I’m personally psyched about and gauging by the way the Tairawhiti Adventure Trust have rolled so far, this is very much going to happen! So limber up your old knees and prepare to race your kids around a concrete hydroslide.

As all adults (or oversized kids in some of our cases) know, where there are fun facilities of this magnitude (Read $3.2 Million in funding secured from Trust Tairawhiti), there needs to be a business model to make it happen. Like a lot of what they do, the Trust’s business strategy is anything but traditional. Sitting in their AGM it was glaringly apparent that this group is not territorial over the mahi they do, whether it’s their processes, feasibility studies or planning, even as it’s done without any profit to the members, and on top of their day jobs and businesses of their own.

The Trust has shared the skatepark build documents and project pathways with Wellington and Tauranga City Councils and alongside their own major projects they have also helped Mahimahi Bowlriders and Surely Skate with process support and to secure funding, and are helping community groups in Mahia and Ruatoria with skate and bike projects. Next on the to-do list for this group of do-ers is the facilitation of a local competitive climbing wall build, so watch this space and get your fingers flexing.

The Trust says that being outside local government has enabled them to push ahead faster on projects as “there’s less red tape”, although they admit with a laugh that “there is still a lot of red tape”.

As with anything worth doing in the world, there have been challenges along the way. When you have real people acting as the guarantor on monthly build invoices that could form solid house deposits (yes even in this climate) there have been plenty of make or break moments for the group. But these are adventure racers that have been in their share of headwind kayak stages, so they have just dug their paddle in, pivoted hips and put pressure where it's needed to keep the boat moving forward. Their motto seems to be simple: “You just get __it done”.

Though it is us that should be thanking them, the Tairāwhiti Adventure Trust has a lot of thanks for others that have made this all possible, notably Trust Tairāwhiti, Sport Gisborne Tairāwhiti and Currie Construction who have provided huge support for the skatepark build and the pump track coming next year.

So Gizzy… other than getting out and amongst the amazing facilities coming your way, if you’re keen to get behind the Tairāwhiti Adventure Trust, give them a holler, look them up on their website, Facebook page or give them a shout out when you see them out and about. Time, skills and financial support are always appreciated, especially if you too subscribe to the motto of just “Get __it done”.

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