There are a lot of answers to the question, how did we get here when the subject is the Whakarewarewa Forest Bike Park.
One is financial partners and the Rotorua Energy Charitable Trust is a crucial example of that.
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Starting from the 2006 UCI Mountain Bike and Trials Championships, the trust has funded numerous bike-related projects, often being the difference whether they happen or not.
"Their financial commitment to support hosting any successful bid and hanging in across three successive bids, was vital to convincing the UCI that Rotorua could stage the event," says Dave Donaldson who led the bids and chaired the board who oversaw the Worlds.
Grahame Hall was Rotorua's mayor in 2003, a founding member of the Trust in 1994 and its chair from 2004 till 2016. "I sat down with him and asked him his thoughts on supporting a third bid," recently re-elected Rotorua deputy mayor Donaldson continues. "'Sometimes, Dave', he said, 'the best thing about banging your head against a brick wall is when you stop, but we're not quitters and if you think there's a good chance….' "With that support and our own self-belief, third time lucky, we cracked the nut, wrenching it out of Europe after four straight years there, and out of the northern hemisphere for only the second time since Cairns in 1996."
The trust also provided financial backing for the Rotorua Mountain Bike Club's trail building programme. "In 2012 and 2013 they matched Rotorua Lakes Council funding of $20,000 per year," says Gregg Brown, Club president at the time. "This saw the club get real traction and that flowed on to the Rotorua Trails Trust when we set it up in 2015."
The trust has helped fund the Rotorua Mountain Bike Club's Emergency 1st Response Unit since 2016, Crankworx, the Rotorua Bike Festival and Rotorua Singlespeed Society national championships in 2013 and 2015 and two world championships in 2010 and 2017.
"After 2006, mountain biking was really gaining momentum in Rotorua," says Society president, Gary Sullivan. "However, single speed events are on the…well, eccentric side, so the Trust's backing of the World's in 2010 was especially appreciated and, on reflection, quite brave."
The success of the Society's events has resulted in major donations to charities and to the trails. "Without the ongoing backing of the Trust that wouldn't have been possible," says Paul Laing from the Society. "Partnering with an organisation that does so much for the general community is a source of great pride for our team and we're very grateful to all the trustees and Alison Perrin who was grants coordinator through that period."
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For a quarter century the Trust has made major contributions to a broad range of projects – social, cultural, events, the annual Young Achievers Award and the undergrounding of power and utility lines – all making Rotorua a better place to live.
Set up after the sale of Rotorua Electricity Ltd, the initial investment has grown from $32 million to $150 million with more than $110 million returned to the community in grants.
There are six trustees elected every three years, giving the people of Rotorua a say in who manages the funds. Election packs are being distributed from November 1 and voting closes at noon on November 23.
See rotoruatrust.org.nz for a candidate directory and Rotorua Energy Charitable Trust on Facebook for more of Andrew Warner's outstanding photos.