The hum of engines could be heard from Wainuiomata to Masterton today as hundreds of bikies made a noise about teenage suicide in New Zealand.

In the pouring rain, carrying photographs of young ones lost, they rode together to raise awareness and break the silence surrounding suicide.

At 7.30am this morning, Waikato and Horowhenua riders met in Levin before heading to Upper Hutt to join the ride.

However, before leaving Horowhenua, they stopped at Ohau's Tukorehe Marae to meet the whanau and friends of a young girl who died of suspected suicide on Friday last week.


Taitiana Witehira was only 15-years-old.

As the eldest child, Taitiana was raised by her grandparents Catherine and Kerry Manning who heard about the ride and requested the riders stop at the marae to pick up a picture of Tatiana to take with them.

Mrs Manning said they wanted the public to see the face of a teenager who had been lost and to understand the devastation of the loss.

She said Taitiana was vibrant, cheeky and full of life, as loved as a child could be.

"Taitiana had a huge personality that everybody gravitated towards and there wasn't a sport she didn't succeed in," Mrs Manning said.

She also said the silence of the "taboo subject" needs to end.

"No one wants to talk about it, no one wants to acknowledge it's happening, but we need to talk about it, our kids need to know they can talk to someone that somebody does love them and somebody will hear them."

She said the message of hope was given to everyone who walked through their marae gates this past week.


"Be present in your children's lives, even when they don't want you to be," she said.

"In our minds if one child can hear that they are loved and cared for then that ride is worth it."

Mrs Manning wants to know what the Government is doing to help prevent suicide in New Zealand but also says everyone is a part of the solution.

"It's a whanau ora issue that encompasses everyone, our health system and our justice system."

"While they keep debating where the kaupapa [responsibility] belongs, our kids are dying," she said.

"There are no answers for us, just lessons for others to hear."

The event was run by Riders Against Teenage Suicide (RATS), a Wellington branch of an organisation the first launched by Waikato mental health nurse Kahui Neho.

Horowhenua Tribal Nations rider Jeremy Gregory. Photo/Simon Neale
Horowhenua Tribal Nations rider Jeremy Gregory. Photo/Simon Neale

Appalled by New Zealand's "tragically high" youth suicide rate, he teamed up with motorbike club the Super Maori Fullas and formed RATS in 2012.

Since then bikies from across the country have been riding in the name of RATS.

Super Maori Fullas member Rory McAllister was a key player in the launch of the campaign and today he joined the ride once again.

"We formed this kaupapa to bring awareness to all the agencies around New Zealand that suicide had go out of control and we need to do something about it," he said.

"Our tamariki, elders, and our wahine are suffering so badly over this, [the ride is] to bring awareness about the fact it's okay to talk about it... and say to one another we are here to help and [to] stay strong."

The shoe project co-ordinator Simon Oosterman commended the bikies but challenged the Government.

Oosterman has been traveling the country with a display of 606 pairs of shoes representing an annual total of lives lost to suicide in New Zealand.

He said he was campaigning for a suicide prevention target and an independent inquiry into the country's mental health crisis.

"It's great that hundreds of bikies are raising awareness about teen suicide, but when they are doing more than the Government, we have a problem."

Oosterman and the shoes, alongside 20 bereaved families, will visit Parliament grounds tomorrow at 11am for world suicide prevention day.


If you are worried about your or someone else's mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call 111.

If you need to talk to someone, the following free helplines operate 24/7:

LIFELINE: 0800 543 354
NEED TO TALK? Call or text 1737
SAMARITANS: 0800 726 666
YOUTHLINE: 0800 376 633 or text 234

There are lots of places to get support. For others, click here.