Families helping their children to get fit and stay at a healthy weight through a targeted health programme have been given bicycles and helmets to keep up the momentum.

He Pihinga Ora (Supporting Raising Healthy Kids) is a Northland District Health Board pilot offered to families with children who are above a certain body mass index (BMI) at their pre-starting school health check.

The first family to turn up for an event at Whangārei's Town Basin last week was Blake Tucker and his parents Brett and Leanna, who were thrilled when they were given a bike each and Blake was given a new helmet.

"Where we live it's really busy, so Blake wouldn't have been able to ride to school for years - now we can ride with him. Plus it's good for the environment," his mother said.


Health assistants (kaiāwhina) help the families enrolled in the He Pihinga Ora programme to make small, positive changes to nutrition, activity and wellbeing.

The focus is to reach goals that enable them to spend more time together, make smarter food choices or even learn te reo Māori together.

Kaiāwhina Kerrianne Rameka said the three strands to the programme are: Kai Ora – Nutrition, Hākinakina – Exercise and Hauora – Wellbeing.

"Using these strands, we ask what they've done in the past, what worked and didn't work, and if they know why. Our role is to support the whānau with the goals they set themselves for each of the strands by finding an activity that the whole whānau will benefit from, eg. swimming, bike riding, walking The Loop to giving meal ideas and recipes."

Rameka organised the cycling gifts after He Pihinga Ora held a wheels day event earlier this year where whānau brought bikes, skateboards, scooters and raced around The Loop.

My Ride Whangārei offered a discount for the bikes, and manager Paul Fancy said the company was so impressed with the programme it then donated helmets, a rack and a baby seat.

"Kerrianne and her team have nailed it. With the new bike path from Kamo into town and summer coming, these bikes will help these families get out and about," Fancy said.