A "fast-talking Maori boy" was the toast of Te Teko after organising a charity ride of hundreds of bikers travelling from Tauranga to Edgecumbe.
Tauranga Weekend Rider Tony Ngawhika called on his motorbiking community earlier this month to come together yesterday for a ride to raise money for Edgecumbe flood victims.
About 450 people responded, raising about $7000 at first count.
Mr Ngawhika said he was humbled at the camaraderie among his biking buddies, some of whom travelled from Taranaki and Kaitaia for the event.
"Guys like me who ride down the road, we are just normal people who care for our community and care for our children," he said.
The convoy of bikes left Club Mount Maunganui about 11am and arrived at a community fundraising event at Te Teko Racecourse, where they were welcomed by another 300 to 400 people.
"I've been crying all day today on the inside, seriously, because now the whole of New Zealand and the biking community know [about our efforts] . . . They want to know who this fast-talking Maori boy from up north is who's put this together.
"But I didn't do it by myself. I did it with my friends. I'm just really lucky to have amazing people on my side."
The group was still selling off raffle tickets yesterday afternoon and Mr Ngawhika hoped to have more than the initial count of $7000 for Edgecumbe flood victims. He said he would know the final count by Tuesday.
Mr Ngawhika said there were many things happening throughout the world but he thought "why don't we help our own people on our own doorstep?"
Mr Ngawhika said he visited Edgecumbe days after the flooding and was shocked to see the mess the town had been left in after the water receded. He found a shovel and began cleaning up what he could.
When we returned to Tauranga and caught up with the Weekend Riders, he proposed the idea of the SOS Charity Ride.
"Everybody just jumped on board and the rest was a snowball affect," he said.
"We care. Not just me but all of us."
Money was raised by $10 rider registrations, plus commemorative badge sales, donations and raffles. Money will go towards providing food, water, facilities, shelter and equipment for the cleanup via an SOS Edgecumbe bank account. The account is administered by two members of the Rangitaiki Community Board - Graeme Bourk and Evan Harvey.
More than $70,000 has already been raise via the Edgecumbe & Eastern Bay of Plenty Mayoral Flood Appeal on Givealittle. If you would like to donate, but missed the charity ride, you can access that page
which is managed by the Whakatane District Council.
If you would like to help but missed the charity ride, you can donate via a Givealittle page.