Teau ‘Mr T’ Aiturau is the founder of Time To Thrive – To Stay Alive, a cycling-focused charitable trust that aims to improve the health of his south Auckland community.
He shares his story and a few of his favourite south Auckland spots:
This is where our bike workshop has moved to temporarily after we outgrew the space we had at Whare Koa Māngere Community House.
Most of the bikes are donated - visit facebook.com/tripleteez if you can help - and we use them for community rides, and also for our school programmes, where we teach kids how to ride. If they want to have their own, they have to come into the workshop and have a tinker. There are always bikes that need repairing and they earn theirs by helping out.
When I had some health problems (I weighed 252kg in 2014), I started riding and my doctor gave me a mountain bike. That changed my life. So I’m trying to do the same for others. Now my motto is, ‘Keep the wheels spinning’. I started doing this five years ago, helping a few kids, and it just built from there.
I bought 10 bikes for $80 at Turners Auctions and fixed them up. And then we eventually moved to this garage in one of the park’s maintenance sheds. As for how many bikes we’ve given away, it would probably be getting up to the thousand mark. Auckland Council has part-funded us from the start, but we always need more money to run our events. And we always need more bikes.
It’s basically all volunteers; there are four of us — just people who have a passion for our community and want to help. I love what I do. And I’d probably be up to no good if I wasn’t doing this.
Papatūānuku Kōkiri Marae is also in the park for people to visit. They have community gardens and beehives. There’s also a miniature steam train and lots of grass, so you’ve always got sport on. What we want now is to get a permanent base here, a pump track or BMX track, and connect up the cycleways to the Town Centre. That’d be great for the community.
There’s lots of nice food in the mall, and a market on Thursday nights that is great fun. The Te Ara Mua – Future Streets programme has created all these separated cycle lanes around the Town Centre that are a lot safer, and they connect to the airport and to Māngere Bridge.
The Town Centre is where a lot of our rides start, and we had our big Christmas in the Carpark event there. We gave away 20 bikes. I love riding. It’s just joy and adrenaline and it’s great when you pass cars on the road and go, “See ya!” It’s so satisfying.
As well as the indoor pools, there are outdoor pools, a couple of slides and a splash pad that open during summer. It’s always so busy and fun. We have bikes out front for people to use, too. You just come and register at the main desk, and then you can take them out. We had some of the old Postie bikes parked up there and a couple of ladies caught onto them and didn’t want to give them back. So now we’ve got brand-new Merida bikes out there.
The track is flat, there are no cars and it’s beautiful. It goes through Ambury Regional Park, around the Watercare ponds, to Puketutu Island and all the way out to Ihumātao and the Ōtuataua Stonefields. I generally just ride past all the animals at Ambury farm. “See ya!”
And if we want a swim, we go around Ambury or maybe Onehunga Bay Reserve. You can stop off for an ice cream at The Strawberry Farm on Kirkbride Road.
I was born and raised in Māngere so I’ve been going there all my life. And you can bike to Māngere Mountain and head up to the top if you want a good view.