2019 AGM – Chair’s Report

Chairperson Report
Kia Ora everybody & let me welcome you to the final wrap up for the 2018-2019 membership year.

I really hope you have been lucky enough to enjoy some great rides during the last 12 months & that you intend to join us again for the next year ahead, we are lucky in the mighty Hawkes Bay to have such a fantastic range of riding options to choose from.
It is an awesome time to be a mountain biker currently, with the growth in the sport / technology / number of locations where we can ride & our neck of the woods is as good as anywhere in NZ I believe.

I have ridden fairly extensively around the North Island in the last 12 months & am impressed with the MTB infrastructure developing in most regions at present. The great thing is that Hawkes Bay is punching above its weight with trail development & is highly regarded from outside the region.

This has been my sixth year as chairman of your club (still one of the largest of it’s kind in the country) & I am very proud of what we have achieved collectively during that time.

In lots of ways it has been the most challenging year for this club & its committee in the 10 years I have been involved, for a number of reasons:

Our situation has evolved somewhat differently this year compared to the original plan & with that comes a mix of good, bad & ugly. Don’t get me wrong, change is good however it takes a focused robust committee & systems to manage the transition to then come out the other side in good shape, which is exactly what we have done so well done team !

There have been some changes within the Pan Pac forest management & operations, plus they have also had more than their fair share of scrutiny with new stringent national forestry standards implemented. So on behalf of the club I thank them all for their continued support & access. We look forward to strengthening our working relationship with Pan Pac ongoing. In particular I would like express gratitude to Sean Wright, Dale Eastham & Dennis Hall for all their efforts & support this last year.

The Replanted Block, Pakuratahi & parts of the Mill Block have been temporarily closed within the last year for thinning & forest extraction operations, which has restricted our access for 8 months or so. However, it was pleasing to see we still finished the 2018-19 year with 2289 members (making it the most successful year yet) plus over 1300 visitor permits sold.

Some of our plans to roll out further infrastructure have been put on hold or cancelled & throughout the year our membership base has expressed frustration more than ever with a number of complaints fielded. However, I can assure you these were listened to & addressed as best we were able within the means available.

Like lots of clubs the percentage of members who volunteer their time, skills & energy is actually very small & if you are one of those folks who contributed in any shape or form, I applaud your actions & thank you on behalf of the club.

Having said that there are plenty of positives:

  • We experienced extended summer like conditions, making for awesome riding in the last year
  • Successful club run events, ie –
  • – HBMTBC shuttle day in Rotorua for HB anniversary (with 260 riders in attendance)
  • – NZDH Series held in Pakuratahi, with over 150 riders
  • – Doug Wisor Memorial Enduro in the Mill Block, with over 120 riders
  • – I attended, or heard about all the above & was impressed by such great club spirit at these events.
  • Organised rides with the BMShe crew, who appear to be gaining a lot of interest & regular numbers attending over the summer months
  • HBMTBC being nominated / acknowledged once again at the Hawkes Bay Sports Awards amongst some highly regarded sports organisations.
  • – Long serving (20 years) committee member & club secretary Carl Larsen, being recognised for his significant contribution to club & park operations, taking out the Administrator of the Year category for the second time.
  • Youth Development team participating on a national & international level, in particular Charlie Makea. However, there have been a number of Hawkes Bay riders competing nationally in several MTB disciplines over the last year & we are proud of all their efforts !
  • Continued club affiliation with MTBNZ & Cycling NZ
  • Club raised funds being donated to local rescue helicopter trust
  • Bike film nights for club members to attend
  • New club riding kit available for members to purchase.

For me personally, I had a big spill off the bike in October last year, knocked the wind out of my sails which saw me unable to ride for a couple of months but got back in saddle as soon as possible, hopefully wiser & more upright than ever before. However I also had many highlights, including –
Taking dozens of kids MTB riding & seeing their individual MTB skills & confidence grow, which is hugely satisfying
Sharing time in the saddle with many of my friends family & riding buddies, which is always such a privilege in our amazing park & in the North Island generally (shout out to GT & Willie for keeping me fed & watered!)

Several ongoing & new MTB developments within the HB including –
Te Mata Peak (slow as it may be) purchase of additional land.
Waipukurau Gum Forest (more mountain bike trails planned)
Ranui Farm Park ongoing trail network.

So, as the “Hawkes Bay” Mountain Bike Club, we must be open to & support / encourage where we can, new opportunities throughout the region as they arise. Exciting stuff indeed.

PARK DEVELOPMENT:
The new park development has been a major focus for over a year, but has really kicked into gear within the last month or so. But this new development will come with a very large price tag.

HBMTBC traditionally generate income from the following 4 main sources:

  • Membership + Permit fees: Approx distribution of – 20% Admin; 10% Savings; 70% Park Maintenance
  • Gaming Trusts: been relatively successful with the majority of our applications, mostly for new trails
  • Trail Sponsorship + Donations: support from local families & businesses and via the Trailblazer fund. This has been fairly low key this past year, however I would like to thank those who have donated financially to the club in the last year or so. Your contribution is greatly appreciated.
  • Events: downhill, enduro races + shuttle days with any surplus funds going back into the park development fund.

Financially your club is in good shape, with a pleasing finish to our financial year. This has been due to prudent fiscal management of club funds. The overall operating costs have generally risen & then there is the cost of maintaining equipment and the trails. However, the club has been focused on saving hard for this & moving forward there is a plan to spend some of those reserves in conjunction with continuing the drive for additional funds via other potential income streams.

The long term plan is to get back in & redevelop certain areas as & when we are allowed to after harvesting / planting. So a succession plan is critical for everybody’s benefit & we have spent a considerable amount of time/energy planning for when these forestry blocks become available.
Again, as a reality of our partnership with Pan Pac, we need to be mindful of our respective footprint within the forest & respect the needs of their commercial operation at all times.

I regularly get compliments from a variety of visitors & club members about how good the level of riding in our forest is & this is a good indicator that we are evolving in the right direction!

I have already mentioned previously that as a club we are now in a position to strategically look ahead & ask some serious questions of what next for our club?
With a long term vision in mind, your committee has been investigating how in the future we best develop & collaborate collectively with strategic stakeholders, to deliver the best MTB facilities & rider experience within Hawkes Bay for many years to come & that is an exciting prospect.

Approximately 2 years ago, we got wind that our time in the Mill, Pakuratahi and Replanted Blocks was very likely to be considerably shorter than what was originally understood. This was mostly due to the health & safety risks posed by our members riding in & around a major thorough fare used for logging based traffic & activity which had not been considered originally.
This initially was disappointing, especially due to the significant investment (financial & human resource) spent on developing the Mill Block & our future plans for this block. Our access has always been a privilege for which we are grateful for, but it became apparent that things needed to change sooner than later.
In the interim, we continue to experience great value from our existing trail network within the Mill Block. Accordingly, behind the scenes your committee has been consulting & planning extensively with the Pan Pac board, senior management, council & other key partners for a way forward to meet the needs of all parties.
There has been a significant amount of change & we have spent a lot of time getting to understand Pan Pac & what we require from each other in our long term relationship. I can assure you that Pan Pac are committed to mountain biking for the long haul. Based on that, the committee had to look for a sustainable long term solution. We engaged the services of a consultant who helped pull together an initial proposal which went all the way to the Oji (Pan Pac’s owners) board.

I can now report that we have just signed off on a Licence to Occupy with Pan Pac, which will give the club security of tenure for at least 25 years within Tangoio Forest.

This is a significant step in the long term plans & hopes of your club as we are now looking to redevelop our internationally renowned mountain bike park.
This in itself is a huge achievement for our sport locally & will give great confidence in our bid to secure the funding required to rebuild our MTB Park from scratch. The amount of time (2 years) & energy spent to get to this stage has been massive !
In particular, I want to acknowledge the efforts of the senior leadership group along with Kevin Osborne, who have been instrumental in driving this initiative.
Also respect & gratitude to the Pan Pac management for their support & foresight in granting such long term access to their forest, without them on board none of this would be possible.
Whew. So what now ?

Basically, we need to get cracking with developing the initial trail network & supporting infrastructure, then formulate a game plan on how to deliver a regional sport facility of national significance, which will now be known as: “Pan Pac Mountain Bike Park“.

We plan to engage the services of at least 3 different professional track building companies over the next two years (funding dependant) as well as utilise local contractor services where able. We plan to have a wide range of trails built covering all abilities from levels 1 – 5, including digger built, hand-built, family-friendly, progressive, downhill, e-bike, event + shuttle friendly, etc to cater to as broad an audience as possible.
The steps being:

  • Plan park trail network
  • Obtain resource consent as required by the licence – we are being guided by Roger Wiffen on this process.
  • Fundraise
  • Build

This is truly exciting for all of us as a riding community.

There is still a lot of planning / detail / funding to sort, however we are committed to forging ahead & have the longevity of access required to implement our ambitious vision. Effectively, the goal is to develop a freakin’ amazing recreational facility to benefit thousands of locals & tourists alike for the life of a pine forest & beyond.
How about that for an update, not bad for a handful of highly engaged volunteers pulling this together on the side, eh?
Also thanks to my lovely Deb, who has supported me through this exercise as it has been quite a commitment.

Reflecting back, I am humbled & hugely appreciative of the amazing club committee who have stepped up time & time again, who have just got the job done this year. So a MASSIVE THANKS to you all, we all can be very proud of what has been achieved collectively throughout 2018 – 2019! We have come together & grown stronger as a team as a consequence which is awesome. Having said that we have a lot of goals to achieve in the next year, so will need to be even sharper in our operations as we progress.

Going forward we will require some “new blood” & fresh perspectives in conjunction with the senior leadership group, to take the club to the next chapter in our history. We are currently looking to restructure the committee & the roles within it, as a consequence we will look to allocate duties accordingly to meet the needs of the club & its operations. We will require support from you & should you be in a position to offer expertise, services or resources to assist, please let us know.

In the meantime ride hard, ride safe. Looking forward to seeing the results of the year ahead !
Nga Mihi Nui. I hope to see you out on the trails…  Cheers Scott.