Happy birthday to Paddy Avery. He would've been 27 this week.

He passed away in December 2012, doing something he loved - riding his bike.

Patrick Dean Avery pretty much grew up in the Whakarewarewa Forest. And he grew into a giant, like his older brother, Clinton, riding a bike the size of a farm gate, too.

His mum and dad, Maryann and Murray, Clinton and his sister, Monique, were all seriously competitive mountain bikers. So was Paddy and all three of the kids represented our country.


Read more: Graeme Simpson: Ride Rotorua a grassroots Rotorua gem
Graeme Simpson: There's nothing like a night-time ride in the forest

Les Gets, 2004: Clinton's first Mountain Bike World Champs and he's in the top 10 in the Junior cross-country ... until his front wheel goes boom. Instead of biffing his bike into the weeds, he shoulders it and runs it in to finish in 69th. Remarkable.

Murray built some of the very best, most popular trails in the forest and Paddy worked alongside him. A Trail (renamed Paddy's Run, in his honour), Yellow Brick Road, the original Split Enz and Pondy New – all with a touch of Avery magic and style, lovingly crafted with exact benching and perfect camber. Yellow Brick Road is still a masterclass and when Casey King, another top builder, put through the return section of the trail, his inspiration was clear.

The service for Patrick was held under The Sails in the Redwoods with about 1000 people gathering to remember him. Many tears were shed as family and friends spoke about the young man they knew as Big P.

For Murray, it was "the hardest thing I've ever had to do" as he recalled Paddy's love for life in a wonderful tribute to his boy.

"He lived for every moment and hated being bored. If he couldn't do something outside we seemed to pay for it," he said to laughter from the crowd. "Patrick loved the outdoors and all it had to offer."

Laughter wasn't out of place. Paddy's sense of humour and how quick he was to smile was mentioned a lot that sad week.

Monique described him as the best brother in the world.


"He told me it was his mission in life to piss me off and he did a bloody good job."

More laughter. An unforgettable young man and every year his family and friends gather to remember him on his birthday. Ride on, Paddy.

Hei whakakapi / whakamutunga | A karakia for Patrick (thanks to Rawiri Bhana):
Unuhia, wetewetea, (Release, untie me from)
Ngā tāmitanga o te wā, (The restrictions of the day)
Ngā kaupēhitanga o te wā, (The difficulties of the day)
Ngā herenga o te wā, (The obligations of the day)
Kia wātea te ngākau, (That my mind and emotions are luminous)
Kia wātea te tinana, (That my physical being is unburdened)
Kia wātea te wairua, (That my spiritual self is unimpeded)
Tomokia e Tāne, (Tāne be imbued within me)
Tāne te waiora, (With your vitality)
Tāne te whakaputa nei, (That I emerge)
Ki te whai ao, (Into the world)
Ki te ao mārama, (Of illumination and understanding)
E Rongo whakairia, (It is secured and legitimately confirmed)
Hui e! Tāiki e! (Ready for the tide of time, place and need).

Photo: Ride on, Patrick Avery (Nick Lambert).