Nearly 30 children who believed they were heading out on a school outing to view art have been gifted new bikes and helmets instead.
The 28 children gathered at Fraser Cove shopping centre and were surprised by actor and comedian Mark Wright, who announced that through the New Zealand Retail Property Group (NZRPG) and Variety - the Children's Charity the would be able to each ride their very own bikes home.
The children, between the ages of 7 years old and 9 years old who either do not own a bike or whose bike is outdated, were nominated by local schools and community groups for showing leadership abilities or for their resilience under difficult circumstances.
General manager of marketing and communiccations at the property group Sara Johnson said that as the organisation grew, so did its committment to local communitys, "and especially to the children of the Bay of Plenty".
The partnership between the group and Variety saw almost $75,000 invested since 2016 to help children in communities surrounding the group's shopping centres and businesses. Part of this commitment to the community was gifting bikes to deserving kids from local schools, including Merivale School and Gate Pa School.
The bikes were given out as part of Variety's Bikes for Kids programme, which every year provides around 450 children with their own bike.
Variety chief executive Lorraine Taylor said it wanted students to have the independence and freedom that came with riding a bike.
"By giving the bikes as part of this presentation with NZRPG, we benefit the children here and provide an incentive for their peers to follow in their footsteps."
What is Variety?
Variety provides tailored, flexible support to disadvantaged children in New Zealand. We work alongside schools, community agencies, social workers and healthcare professionals to identify children in need.
Variety provides disadvantaged children with basic essentials (such as warm bedding and school uniforms), one-off grants for additional needs (such as medical and mobility equipment) and access to extra-curricular activities (such as school camp or swimming lessons).