A how-to guide for full immersion in Crankworx/Tere Panuku (to glide, soar and rise):
First, get media accreditation application in, asap.
Same with registering as a volunteer. Two shifts on Sunday and Monday before the main event really kicks in, both very enjoyable.
Special mention to the warm welcome from volunteer managers, Clair Coker and Matt Browning, their constant communication, the Facebook group page and Matt's excellent event app.
Co-ordinating volunteers for an event this size over eight days is a massive task - like herding cats while successfully solving a Rubik's Cube.
Mission accomplished Clair and Matt, and always with smiles.
For events like this, volunteers are the first people most of those attending will encounter – entry, carparking and so on. As a media "consumer" I found them friendly, well-briefed and very positive "ambassadors" for Crankworx/Tere Panuku, our city and Aotearoa/New Zealand.
And as the event grows so does an evolving knowledge base among the team leaders and returning volunteers.
Later on Monday: A visit to the Secret Spot Hot Tubs at the Waipa carpark to pick up my media accreditation and swag bag from Rotorua NZ. I've experienced quite a few accreditation centres over the years. None have come even close to the Secret Spot – tranquil, beautiful and beverages.
That evening: Attend a very entertaining and informative volunteers' briefing at the Holiday Inn with around 300 others. With a lovely welcome by kaumātua, Eddie Mutu, and, I kid you not, some wild "dance" moves from Matt Browning and Crankworx/Tere Panukiu event director, Ariki Tibble, to "I like to move it, move it". Mauri ora.
Tuesday evening: Te Puia for the official opening, Another remarkable venue, with a stirring wero and pōwhiri to the whānau and the manuhiri. One of those evenings when the heart soars with pride in our city, our culture and te reo.
I missed Crankworx/Tere Panuki 2019, so I was determined to make the most of my media credentials in 2020. Like having a smorgasbord lunch at Stratosfare, thanks to the great team at Skyline, home to the event since year one in 2015.
Afterwards, I visited the Volcanic Wines tasting room with more magnificent views over our city and lake, some expert conversation with Annie, the sommelier, before a gondola down to the race venue and more breathtaking action.
A month out from Crankworx/Tere Panuku, the team asked me to write a story about 30 years of trail development in the Whakarewarewa Forest for the event guide. It came together almost seamlessly with a bit of fact-checking (thanks, Dave Donaldson) and minimum tweaking - really a culmination of writing about MTB in Rotorua since 2001 and these columns from 2003.
Then, they asked for a second story about the longer, bigger picture, the forest's origin story and how ownership, management, forestry operations and recreation intersect so successfully.
Compressing that history and the complexity of these relationships into a couple of pages was a challenge (thanks, again, Dave for the fact check) - and very, very satisfying.
The guide was produced by Neil Kerr and his Spoke magazine team and it was a real highlight to get my hands on a copy, mid-week. There's still nothing quite like seeing stories beautifully laid up and in print.
Roll on 2021: www.crankworx.com/festival/rotorua/