A section of previously unused whānau land on the shores of Lake Rotorua in Ngongotaha is now home to a new indoor facility for Rotorua’s Riding for the Disabled.
The land owned by Waikuta No.2 Trust and managed by Te Tumu Paeroa has helped create something with a broad community-based benefit.
Riding for the Disabled are a not-for-profit organisation that provide people with disabilities the chance to develop skills, independence and a sense of self-worth through interactions with horses. The Rotorua branch used to be based next to Rotorua Airport. But when the airport extended its runway the noise of the planes was scaring both horses and riders so they had to make a move – which was where Waikuta No.2 came in.
“When you see the children on the horses, you can see why the trust got behind it and made the land available,” said Waikuta No.2 Trust Chairman Alex Wilson.
“We have disabled amongst our own Ngāti Whakaue and Te Arawa people so it’s a facility that they can also benefit from”.
The new facility is a full-sized 73 x 22 metre arena which can provide an indoor horse-riding experience for over 100 children with disabilities every week.
The manager of Rotorua’s Riding for the Disabled, Linda Hunt, was full of praise for Waikuta No.2 Trust who have leased the lake-front property to the organisation.
“We could be here with a little shed and out in a paddock but then you’re not delivering the same sort of quality of service. The Trust are really on board. They have helped us every step of the way with anything that they can do to help us. I think they have a real commitment to this as a community thing that they are actively part of,” says Linda.
The benefits of this facility to the community are self-evident.
“The reward is seeing children reach milestones and goals and doing things that they can’t normally achieve. A child who’s in a wheelchair can actually ride a horse. They’re up off the ground and they can be independent.”
“You see the gradual improvement and the kids love it. The kids used to get really upset when it was cancelled because of bad weather but now they can come every week and the rain’s not an issue” says Linda.
The development also directly benefits Waikuta No.2 Trust, its shareholders and Ngāti Whakaue.
Ngāti Whakaue children ride here and the build was driven by Ngāti Whakaue leadership and builder’s working alongside other community groups in the area.
“Projects like this show how Māori groups can work with others to create something that’s really beneficial for the broader community” says Kiritapu Allan, Business Relationship Consultant for Te Tumu Paeroa.
For more information about Riding for the Disabled go to www.rda.org.nz.