Ruth is the human interest reporter and a photographer for the Bay of Plenty Times.

Bikes for Christmas for Tauranga youngsters

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Tallica-Rose Buchannan, 6, with Tommy Wilson and Merivale Primary School principal Jan Tinetti. Photo/Ruth Keber
Tallica-Rose Buchannan, 6, with Tommy Wilson and Merivale Primary School principal Jan Tinetti. Photo/Ruth Keber

A Tauranga man has raised enough money to gift 23 bikes to needy children across the Bay for Christmas but he is not stopping there.

In Monday's Bay of Plenty Times columnist Tommy Wilson asked Tauranga locals to be heroic in their own backyard by helping to fundraise enough money to buy bikes for 100 children for Christmas.

So far, enough money had been donated to gift 23 bikes.

Mr Wilson, of Te Tuinga Whanau Support Services, said it could be difficult to help the homeless and needy in Kaikoura after the recent devastating earthquake but people could still help others in Tauranga.

"We can all be heroes just for a day. So I just put it out there, grab 10 mates, put in $10 each to grab a bike for a needy kid this Christmas."

Mr Wilson said he was surprised with the number of people who had read the column and supported the initiative.

Some Tauranga children would wake up on Christmas day with no gifts to open.

"This can be a year they can have a decent Christmas present that they will remember forever.

"It's nice to have the cans of food, foodbank parcels and putting the homeless up in motels. But this is something for the kids."

Mr Wilson said about eight per cent of pupils at Merivale Primary School suffered from homelessness.

"You add that together with the many families we are dealing with. Yesterday, a family of seven children had nowhere to sleep.

"Homelessness doesn't go away. It's not like 'oh wow, now it's Christmas now so nobody is homeless anymore'.

"It's always there. We see it every day of the year. So it's great for my staff to be able to sprinkle a little joy."

The bikes would be gifted to the children during the annual Santa Carrus Party on December 8.

"It's an experience they will remember for the rest of their lives. We might even have to get some more traffic control with a 100 new bikes for the Merivale and Greerton area."

Merivale Primary School principal Jan Tinetti said the bikes would be terrific.

"It's been a tough year for our children, this will mean so much for them.

"It takes the pressure off the family, too. Any family wants to do their best for their children and this helps them to achieve those goals."

To help support Mr Wilson in his cause, email him at

- Bay of Plenty Times

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