It was a dark and stormy night in 1967 when a teenage boy knocked on the door of a house in Maxwell needing a ride home.

Rus Te Patu was 17 and had completed his 7th-form year at New Plymouth Boys' High School when he decided to ride his bicycle home to Whanganui.

"I told my aunty who I was boarding with in New Plymouth that I wanted to ride home and she packed me lunch and waved me on my way," says Mr Te Patu.

By the time he had covered the 137km from New Plymouth to Maxwell, it was dark and raining.


"I was scared and tired so I went and knocked on the door of the Teka's house next to Pakaraka Pa.

"They were whanau and they called my parents before driving me home."

Fifty years later, Mr Te Patu says he feels frustrated that he never finished the journey and plans to ride from Maxwell to Whanganui on December 10.

"I will have a few supporters riding with me and rather than take the state highway route, we will take the Maxwell Station Rd to Mowhanau and on to Whanganui.

"We will ride past my old family home in Harper St, then on to my current home at Pipiriki."

He anticipates that the 37km ride is likely to take about one and a half hours.

"As well as finishing my ride of 50 years ago, it is about encouraging people to keep fit at any age.

"I go to the Splash Centre and exercise most days and I would like to encourage more retired Maori people to go there.


"Most of the older people I meet there are Pakeha."

Mr Te Patu and his wife Karen lived in Australia for many years and he worked as a rugby coach for Sydney teams like the Newtown Jets and later the Cronulla junior teams.

"When we moved back here, I had hip replacement surgery and my doctor encouraged me to swim and go to the gym.

"It has become a habit now and I'm retired so there's no excuse not to go.

"Some members of my family have type 2 diabetes and I hate to see people developing a disease that is avoidable."

Mr Te Patu said he welcomed cyclists who might like to join his ride on December 10 which would depart from Pakaraka Pa at around 9am.