Terry Bluck and Paul Manaena

Kiwis Terry Bluck and Paul Manaena can’t wait to jump on their motorbikes and travel across Australia on a charity bike ride.
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Terry Bluck and Paul Manaena

Kiwis Terry Bluck and Paul Manaena can’t wait to jump on their motorbikes and travel across Australia on a charity bike ride to raise money and awareness for the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand.

The pair both work for Laser Group – a leading network of electrical and plumbing contractors in New Zealand and Australia. Laser Group New Zealand has been heavily involved over the years raising money and awareness for the Mental Health Foundation.

They’ll be joined on their bikes by about 30 Australian Laser Group members who are raising money for the Australian mental health charity beyondblue. The ride, called Monkey off Your Back, starts in Melbourne on 6 June and finishes in Cairns on 13 June. The group will travel along the National Highway M31 covering 3,274km.

Well-known biker joins charity ride

Four-time Bathurst 1000 winner (a renowned Aussie 1,000km car race) Steven Richards will be travelling with the group to show his support. They’ll make pit stops along the way for fundraising events and the public will get a chance to meet Steven.

The riders will attend a Laser Group conference when they arrive in Cairns, then a small group will bike back to Melbourne via an inland route. Terry and Paul both took part in a similar charity bike ride called the Postie Bike Challenge in Australia in 2014, which raised over $120,000 for beyondblue.

Terry, 51, owns Laser Electrical Auckland Central and says part of the catalyst for getting involved was losing a couple of good friends to suicide.

“While the bike ride is for a serious issue, it will be a lot of fun. I’m really looking forward to it. It’s for a great cause and I’ll get to see a lot of the countryside,” Terry says.

He bought a Harley Davidson motorcycle in Australia for the bike ride, so it will be waiting for him when he arrives. He says he’s seen a lot of tradies affected by mental health issues.

“I think sometimes guys are hopeless at talking about their problems. The more people talk about mental health, the better.”

Talking about mental health is key

Paul is the managing director of Laser Plumbing and Electrical in Napier. He’s in the process of getting his Boss Hoss trike shipped to Australia so he can use it for the fundraiser. The 55-year-old says mental health is something close to his heart.

“I’ve lost a few friends to suicide over the years. For myself, being a business owner can be very stressful and there are a lot of ups and downs. Being a male, you’re brought up to be tough so you keep it all in and that’s not good. Males don’t talk a lot about depression. It’s good to talk about things then you can get it off your mind and people can help you,” he says.

He’s been riding motorbikes on and off for the past 20 years.

“It’s really relaxing, you have the wind on your body and face, you’re in charge and you feel free.”

He says he’s most looking forward to being able to give back.

“Giving back to the community is pretty big for me these days. It’s easy to get busy and stuck in your own little world, but it’s a good thing to give back and help people.”

Terry Bluck and Paul Manaena