Waiheke MBC – Planning for long-term success

Waiheke’s MTB trails are entwined with over 600 years of history at Te Putiki o Kahu. Proxima’s Simon Harvey joined the board of trustees in 2015 and has supported the club to develop a fresh strategic plan and become a registered charity.

The success of Waiheke’s fast growing mountain-bike club is gathering pace, offering Aucklanders and visitors another reason to visit the Island. The club has been run by volunteer effort over the last 11 years and now has over 7km of tracks surrounding the Onetangi Sports Park which borders the Whakenwha Regional Park. Recent work has seen an upgrade of the accessible Katoa Iwi ‘family track’ as well as improvements to the more challenging downhill rides.

The strategic planning exercise was an opportunity to engage a wide range of stakeholders and set a clear future direction. “Like with most things on Waiheke, people like to have a voice and shape their own destiny, so making sure a full range of interested and passionate people were involved was always going to be important” explains Simon. “Plus it really added clarity for the volunteer group about the club’s priorities and the next steps towards a sustainable and successful club”.

Combining his strategic planning skills and previous legal experience, Simon was able to help the club quickly achieve charitable registration and improve governance processes. “One of the biggest challenges with passionate volunteers is making sure everyone doesn’t just dash off in their own direction and do their own thing,” explains Simon. “The challenge has been to align efforts with the plan and a clear vision for what future success really looks like.”

Culturally, the club’s trails are in an amazing part of Waiheke that is rich with Maori history. Previously known as Te Putiki o Kahumatamomoe, Rangihoua Hill has been prized territory for over 600 years as a strategic location in the Hauraki Gulf. And as part of the regional park there are strict limits on what materials and machinery can be used. “The club has actually done some amazing work, clearing gorse, providing access to some fantastic bush, and connecting riding trails with walking trails, some of which are now shared,” says Simon. “It’s been a very successful partnership with Auckland Council, the club’s volunteers and local businesses.”

From a sustainability perspective the club has built a lot of trust with its partners through an open, engaging and transparent process. Simon sees this as fundamental to maintaining support and credibility. “From a people perspective, trust is undervalued in terms of sustainability,” he explains. “It’s more than just going through the motions, it’s about an authentic and genuinely inclusive approach that is focused on creating shared value outcomes for all the relevant people involved. And, it’s been a great opportunity to use my work skills for something I’m passionate about in my local community.”

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