Over 500 bikers ride Waikato roads against suicide

By Mānia Clarke-Mamanu

Over 500 bikers took to the roads of Waikato as part of  Riders Against Teenage Suicide RATS. 

Organisers, Ngāruawāhia based Tribal Nations Motorcycle Club say the campaign was supported by Waikato-Tainui as part of their goal to stop teenage suicide.

"When we have 9-year-olds and 11yr olds that think about ending their lives and do it it's not right," said  China Pepperell, Tribal Nations MC, Ngāruawāhia member.

"The most important thing in the world to me is our children.  They are our elders of tomorrow.  If we don't take care of them, where will we be tomorrow?" said Moari Stafford biker (Ngāti Apakura, Ngāti Hikairo).

Māori youth suicide rate is 2.8 times the non-Māori rate.  A record number of riders who took part, some coming from as far away as Nelson. 

"Like the rest of my brothers, I believe it's a major kaupapa.  Something very important to me I'm a father and a grandfather and we are just here to support the club and pinch some ideas so we can do a similar thing in the South Island," said Chris Agnew, South Island Tribal Nations MC

Riders Against Teenage Suicide was launched in 2012.  The ride began at Tūrangawaewae marae, where they received a formal welcome.

"Teen Suicide is also one of the what Tainui want to achieve, what they want to campaign cause that's an issue, so perhaps by having us there and holding the event it broke the ice," said organiser Tiki O'Brien.

Taranaki will host a RATS campaign later this year and Southland's Tribal Nation MC expect to carry the event in March next year.