Bay Chronicle : May 21st 2015
Thursday, May 21, 2015 YOUR PLACE, YOUR PAPER One wheel love on a roll By SARAH HARRIS TWO of the world’s best street unicyclists live in the Far North. Female street world cham- pion Sam La Hood and male street world champion Christian Huriwai live at Otaua Valley but you’ll often find them at Kaikohe’s skate park. Huriwai, 23, started unicy- cling nine years ago. ‘‘I just like weird things. I was a really strange kid. Once I realised the extreme side of [unicycling] and what you can do I wanted to get good at it.’’ La Hood first tried it out at the Circus Kumarani Kai Iwi Lakes festival six years ago. ‘‘Since then it’s all I’ve been doing.’’ But it wasn’t until she saw Huriwai on the front page of a newspaper that the world of extreme unicycling opened up to her. She contacted him on Facebook and invited him to the circus festival in Dargaville. ‘‘Since then we’ve always been in touch. ‘‘Once you start learning tricks it snowballs, then all of a sudden you’re a unicyclist who does tricks and goes to competitions. For the lucky few you win.’’ SamLa Hood and Christian Huriwai are always looking for more keen unicylists to join the scene. The duo are also dating. La Hood says the hobby is fun and they’re always competing against one another. ‘‘It’s cool. You’ve got that emotional connection then you’ve got the other side to it. It’s sporty and fun.’’ Huriwai says street unicy- cling, which is predominantly their style, means they use the urban environment to perform tricks. They spin, flip, jump their unicycle over stairs and jumps, grind down rails or precariously balance on the wheel. ‘‘We do anything that’s kind of dangerous,’’ he says. Huriwai loves expressing himself and creating new moves. ‘‘We’re always doing some- thing new, there’s always something you haven’t tried yet. ‘‘It’s very easy to get caught up in the moment and be very focused. It’s nice to be able to turn off like that.’’ Huriwai’s scuffed and Go to baychronicle. co.nz and click on Latest Edition to watch a video of the Unicycling World Champs. scarred shins are indicative of the rough and tumble sport. La Hood sensibly wears chinos and says she’s never seriously hurt herself. Huriwai says he’s broken his wrist ‘‘a few times’’. ‘‘You get hurt all the time, it’s a daily thing. I’ve always got blood on my leg somewhere.’’ La Hood says she used to practice everyday after school but now with work it has dropped to every weekend and a couple of times during the week. Huriwai founded an organ- isation named Hippo (after a statue he saw at his first world championship) that aims to create a unicycle scene in New Zealand, keep records, organise national competitions and sell unicycling gear. He also teaches unicycling in mid north schools through Te Hauora o Kaikohe. La Hood is training to be a vet nurse in Okaihau. They both intend to keep training, tricking and flipping with nationals coming up in December and the biennial world championships, Unicon, in Spain in July next year. ❚ Contact them through facebook.com/hippounicycles. Backpack of essentials and teddies help foster children By SARAH HARRIS Vulnerable foster children picked up from dangerous homes often only have the clothes on their backs. Foster Hope Northland provide a backpack of pyjamas, toys and toothbrushes to each child that gets rehomed. It is kicking off its annual appeal this month. Northland co-ordinator Debbie Sutcliffe and her son Daniel Sutcliffe put together backpacks for foster children in Northland through the charity Foster Hope Northland. Debbie Sutcliffe says some of the stories bring tears to your eyes. ‘‘Some of the most vulnerable kids are being moved out of a home that’s not safe for them. ‘‘What type of environ- ment they come from, whether it’s drugs or domestic violence, I don’t know.’’ Sutcliffe says there are around 5000 foster children in New Zealand, and Northland is the third highest area for fostering in the country. Getting a backpack full of new stuff can help ease the transition for the children, she says. ‘‘The kids can’t believe it’s all just for them. Obviously at the time they’re being removed it’s quite traumatic, but if you’ve got a cuddly toy it helps.’’ The charity was started five years ago and Sutcliffe aims to get 500 backpacks ready this year. They contain a new pair of pyjamas, cuddly toy, books, underwear, good quality second hand clothing, toothbrush, toothpaste and anything else Sutcliffe may have on hand. ‘‘I always try to get new pyjamas because a lot of the kids get hand me downs. ‘‘It’s always nice to have a new pair.’’ Sutcliffe says there have been some cute stories like a little girl who was being moved on her birthday. Her backpack happened to have a cute, little party dress in it. Or another child who still uses the backpack that they got years ago. Sutcliffe gets many donations flowing in. Her 6-year-old son Daniel had to give up his room temporarily to it. Now they have a storage shed. ❚ Visit fosterhope.co.nz for more information.
May 14th 2015