Credit: Original article can be found here
It’s tough times for Tak Mutu, but he’s staying positive.
His Rotorua mountain biking firm is not only battling the loss of virtually all its customers, it’s now been hit by vandalism.
“Absolute thugs and low-lives decide that they want to take property that isn’t theirs,” Mutu said. “They go ahead and steal things from us while we’re in lockdown, while we’re in the tough alert levels.”
“That was a kick in the guts,” he said. “But I say that, within half an hour of making that message public, we had literally dozens and dozens of messages from people from near and far – I’m talking from overseas, from the US and Canada – messaging me saying ‘we just saw the post, we want to donate to you’.”
Mutu is overwhelmed by the offers of support.
“The number of businesses that have said ‘I’ve got spare poles, I own a building company – can I provide my team for you to help you rebuild?’ Or ‘I’ve got galvanised pipe that you can have’. There was a couple of sign-writing companies that said ‘we’ll do the signage for free’. That was an amazing level of support.”
Rotorua is at the very heart of the North Island’s tourism industry. Visitors came from all over the world for culture, scenery and world class mountain biking. Mutu and his brother own a number of local tourism companies, employing 60 staff. His primary focus now is simply keeping them employed.
“We’re going to really heavily lean on Mountain Bike Rotorua, the different arms of that company. Also, our rentals, our cafes and bike shuttles, we know that’s going to be a big part of what keeps us going over the next bit.
“Because it is so good down here, there’s a reason this is the top mountain bike park in the Southern Hemisphere – because the trails are amazing.
“So we look forward to being able to get more New Zealand visitors, more of our locals around here to see our neck of the woods.”
And with the future of tourism still uncertain, the Rotorua community has drawn even closer together.
“Every community has its ratbags, but what we have here is more than that – we have such a loving, giving community. I mean this mountain bike forest is testament to that. This hasn’t been built off the back of dollars and cents. This has been built off the back of love, sweat and tears.
“This place is built on that love, and that’s what this town is really renowned for.”