They say education is like a bicycle...if you don’t pedal you don’t go forward.
Well, most of the kids at Merivale Primary don’t pedal because they don’t have bikes; but they’re still charging ahead with learning and living.
“No, we don’t have bikes at school because most of them wouldn’t be roadworthy,” says principal Jan Tinetti. It’s bald tyres and no brakes rather than big brand names at Merivale.
“It would just be too hard because we wouldn’t be promoting road safety unless we had road safe bikes.” And they don’t.
And so it’s ironic that perhaps the most coveted prize, the most valued award at a school deprived of bikes, and especially roadworthy bikes, is a bike. Last year just one new bike, this year five of them.
“A new bike is something out of this world, something our kids can’t comprehend,” says Jan. “So this is very exciting.”
What’s exciting at Merivale Primary is something called the Sundee Undee Hundee. It’s a simple concept hatched by Willie Bos and Matthew Ward-Johnson over a glass of wine. And it’s spinning wheels in Merivale.
A bunch of Sunday cycling enthusiasts dig out their mankiest underwear from the bottom of the top drawer, pull it on over the cycling skins and go for a 78km jaunt to Maketu and back.
The ride will start near Maxwell’s Rd at 7.30 am this Sunday, December 6, taking the assorted panties, knickers, G-strings and tortured Y-fronts over the harbour bridge, through Mount Maunganui and along the coast road to Papamoa.
There they will link up with the eastern arterial highway before diverting to the Maketu Surf Club. Then they will do it all again on the way home.
“It’ll be a nice way to make Christmas special for some kids,” says Willie, who will sport a pair of 17-year-old tattered jocks on the run to Maketu.
But to understand how special we need to understand the kids of Merivale Primary.
“Now and again someone will bring a bike to school because they are really proud of it,” says Jan. “But it will be very old and decrepit and if there were bike checks being done, they wouldn’t pass.”
Few bikes, but Merivale Primary is a proud and vibrant place of learning with some notable alumni.
Tom Sharplin, the veteran rock and roller, spent his formative years there. So did the high profile motivational speaker Tony Christiansen.
One flash new bike is donated to the school each year by an anonymous benefactor.
It’s given to the pupil who best serves the values of Merivale Primary, a pupil who is very respectful, always safe, is learning for life and expects the best. And every year Jan wishes she had more bikes to award because so many kids demonstrate those values.
Well because of the Sundee Undee Hundee there will be another four bikes awarded at the school this year.
And at a school where a lot of kids have never even been on a bike, it’ll be like winning a million dollars, says Jan.
“We want them to know they’re appreciated,” says Willie.
He also wants to give some local businesses a shout for helping out with the Sundee Undee Hundee.
Maketu Pies for providing lunch at the local surf club, Ricoh, R-Line Sports Drinks and Holland Beckett have each give $200 while Ride Bikes and Specialized have contributed to the prizes.
The inaugural Sundee Undee Hundee is this Sunday, December 6.
For information on how to participate, visit Tauranga Sundee Undee Hundee on Facebook.