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New bikes for all Pukehina School pupils

2 July 2021

Image: Wayne Brown (left), 12, and Teaimaere Papelu, 11, of Pukehina School, with their schoolmates and the new bikes and helmets they have all received.

All Pukehina School pupils are now able to put their best pedal foot forward, thanks to a generous donation.

The 17 pupils were recently given their own bike and helmet thanks to a partnership between the Graeme Dingle Foundation's Western Bay of Plenty operation and Generation Homes.

At the house building company's recent conference at Baypark, a team-building exercise had delegates building bikes from kits.

What neither they nor the school's pupils, who went to Baypark on a school trip, knew was that the completed bikes were going to the pupils.

Even principal Indra Thomas wasn't fully aware of what was about to take place at the conference.

''Our children didn't know anything about it, I knew a little bit about it, Generation Homes didn't know we were coming, so it was just a big, huge surprise for everyone. The children were just blown away.''

As one of Graeme Dingle Foundation's Western Bay sponsors, Generation Homes approached local foundation manager Dan Allen Gordon and asked him to suggest a suitable school for the bikes.

''They asked who would be a deserving school and Pukehina seemed like the ideal school where many wouldn't have bikes,'' says Dan.

Indra says, at least for now, the bikes will stay at school.

''The whole purpose is to teach them how to ride a bike correctly and safely. The first thing we found when they put their helmets on was 'plonk' - and the straps weren't done up.''

Once they were taught to make sure the helmet was adjusted correctly, they were sent out onto the field.

''But they were going 'this is too hard on the grass, we can't ride on the grass'.''

The only alternative is the school netball court.

''But the court is too small even for just our 17 students.''

Pupils have developed their own bike licence progression of learner, restricted, full and off roader.

Indra says as well as the fun the students are having on the bikes, riding them develops fine and large motor skills, strength, hand-eye co-ordination, and muscle power in their arms and their legs.

''[Teacher] Stacey [Marr] rides a bike and does off roading as well and we are bringing that expertise to the more confident ones and making it more challenging for them,'' says Indra.

There have been one or two mishaps, but that's all part of the learning.

''We've had a couple of crashes down on the concrete, but up they get, back on the bike and that's what we want, that resilience and motivation to carry on.''

Getting the bikes has also brought forward plans to create a cycle track at the school and Indra is now hoping the local community can get behind efforts to fundraise to get the $10,000 she thinks will be needed.

''Funding here is very, very limited, so we are going to now promote in our community and ask for sponsorship and donations for a bike track for our students.''

Indra says she wants to say a huge thank you to Graeme Dingle Foundation and Generation Homes.

Anyone who might be able to help with the cycle track can contact the school by email on

Bay of Plenty Times 01/07/2021