AFTER supporting his son through the loss of 18 people in his life to suicide, Southland man Phillip Rangi discovered a way to merge his lifelong love for motorcycles with his desire to “give back” to something bigger.
Three years ago, Mr Rangi joined Tribal Nations Motorcycle Club (TNMC), which had raised thousands of dollars for some of New Zealand’s most vulnerable people.
Mr Rangi said the club was a band of people who identified as a back-patch non-gang group.
“Our mission statement is to support those in the community who are disadvantaged, disenfranchised and suffering serious illness, neglect, deprivation and abuse, whether physical or emotional, as well as addictions.”
The not-for-profit club had become family to 29 members in Southland, 200 across the country, as well as having riders based in Germany, the United States and Australia.
Established in 2014 by a group of riders in Ngaruawahia, Waikato, the club organised rides for the White Ribbon Appeal, teen suicide awareness, a Ride of Respect for servicemen and women, and others in need, he said. “Down here in Southland we’ve done a lot for individuals in the community, whether it’s food hampers or charity rides to raise a bit of money because a father’s been off work crook or the kids are struggling.”
Mr Rangi said he often took calls from parents who were concerned about their child’s well-being.
“Sometimes kids don’t want to talk to their parents. I had a family ring me up once about their son, so I went and picked him up on my bike and took him out to Bluff. We just dangled our feet over the water and talked and I listened, sometimes that’s all people need is someone to listen.”
The Southland chapter of TNMC started in 2016 and was named Te Taurapa, which meant the stern-post of the waka.
He said TNMC members were from all walks of life and broke stereotypes.
“We’re all like-minded people, business owners and all that, some have been in prison for a long time and wanted a sense of belonging and to give back to the community.”
Mr Rangi encouraged anyone to join and support the cause, with or without a bike, and to contact Te Taurapa if they needed support.