Pupils’ idea for track now reality

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Cyclists of all ages did not waste time trying out a new bike park at Lumsden School on Friday.

Shortly after the Oreti Bike Park, Nga Ngaru e Toru o te Waka Takitimu, was officially opened by Southland district councillor John Douglas, with a helping hand from the youngest pupil at the school, Elijah Thompson (5), riders had their helmets on and were pedalling over the new 1.2km track.

Principal Andrew Watson said the idea for the track, which was built along three sides of the school boundary fence, was raised by year 6 pupils in 2016.

“We regularly do a student survey just to see how things are from a student perspective, what’s going really well for them and any ideas they might have to make Lumsden School a better place.

“A group of boys came up with the idea of having a bike track and they drew a lovely diagram of what it could look like,” Mr Watson said.

All the pupils seemed to think it was a good idea, so the proposed project was taken to the board of trustees, who approved the plan.

A committee was formed and it took about 18 months of planning and construction to build the $45,000 track.

Parent Julian Adams designed the track.

“He did a large chunk of the construction .. with support from parents,” Mr Watson said.

“It’s a really well-constructed track– it should last a long, long time.”

The Maori name of the track, which translates to the three waves of the waka Takitimu, was a reference to the legend about how the nearby Takitimu mountains were formed when three waves overturned the waka, he said.

The track had three parts, a pump track, a link track and a skills-based track.

The school community was grateful for the financial support it had received for the project.

“We know nothing is impossible but we also know nothing is free.

“When we asked for sponsorship and funding support and so many yeses came back, it was like Thunderbirds are go and a sense of excitement.”

The bike track would be an asset for the whole Northern Southland community.

“It’s a playground for all ages for the whole community.

“This is going to have enormous benefit for so many people,” he said.

Pupil Charlie Chen (10) said he really enjoyed riding on the track.

“It’s great because it’s a great workout.

“I do it practically every day .. it’s so much fun.”

His favourite part of the track was the balance beam.

“It teaches you how to stay still.”

Mr Douglas said the benefits of biking went beyond fitness.

“When we think of biking we think of exercise and the good it does our body, but biking is more than that – there’s challenges involved, there’s skills involved . it’s risk assessment.

“We [at the council] recognise what a vital part in personal development that sport does play,” Mr Douglas said.