It is not often you see a team of Samoan, Maori and Pacific Island cyclists on the road, says the organiser of the Uso Bike Ride – but the unusual sight will wend its way through Hawke’s Bay next week.
The group of Maori and Pacifica are travelling from Bluff to Cape Reinga to raise awareness of cancer; particularly amongst Maori and Pacific Islanders. They will ride from Feilding to Hastings on February 18, stay the night, and then head for Taupo the next day.
“Ordinarily you do not see many Pacific Island and Maori cyclists,” says Uso Bike Ride project leader Talalelei Taufale. But the cause is an important one.
“[It’s] to raise awareness of cancer, the importance of having health checks and the benefits of cycling in general.”
It is not the first mammoth cycling adventure for many of the 32-strong group. Four years ago, 16 of them did the trip the other way around, from Cape Reinga to Bluff. Organising the trip took a lot of effort.
“It’s all been worth it though – it will be the first time that a Polynesian group of cyclists have cycled the length of the country both ways to promote health and well-being by bike,” says Mr Taufale.
Uso means brother in Samoan.
“It’s about brothers united to improve the cycle of life for Pacifica and Maori people.”
He said that anecdotally many Maori and Pacifica did not use cancer-related services due to cultural and structural barriers.
Motivated by this information and the cancer battles of friends and family, the group is endeavouring to convince more people to get help.
“The Uso message starts with the boys saving lives, that being their own first.”
The ride, supported by the NZ Cancer Society, started on Thursday.