Peter Wells: Civic Award winner 2022

Published on 09 November 2022

022 Civic Award recipient Peter Wells.

Peter Wells is a passionate advocate for Manawatū mountain biking, helping transform Arapuke Forest Park into a wonderful outdoor adventure asset for Palmerston North.

As treasurer for the Manawatū Mountain Biking Club (MMBC), the farmer and businessman took the helm of its Arapuke Trails Committee a decade ago. The MMBC is one of the city’s larger recreation groups and its vision for the park in the Tararua Ranges overlooking the city, was to become a free-to-ride mecca for local and visiting mountain bikers of all ages.

To reach that potential, Pete saw the need to apply business principles and rigour to its management and financial structure, which then spurred a club of volunteer enthusiasts to exceed their accomplishment expectations.

He developed a sponsorship programme whereby businesses could either contribute to specific trails or to the whole park.

Including funding from the City Council and charitable bodies, Pete has raised more than $1.5 million for park development over the past decade, making progress presentations to council and at annual sponsorship evenings.

In the early days of Arapuke, created out of the K-Loop/Woodpecker Forestry Block purchased by Council in 2006 and now part of the extended Kahuterawa Outdoor Recreation Area, all the bike trails were developed by volunteers.

This changed under Pete’s leadership. The trails are now completed by contractors, freeing up club members for trail design and maintenance, and for developing additional facilities such as the shelter at the high point of the park.

As well as sustaining his Council connections and local business contacts, Pete has also encouraged start-ups such as Kahuts Shuttles and Velstand Trails to add to the park’s accessibility and attraction.

Arapuke, now with over 50km of trails from grade-2 to grade-6, has a growing reputation in the Lower North Island as the must see free-to-ride outdoor adventure destination offering bikers a first-class experience.

Use over the past five years has increased almost 25 percent year-on-year, with the park attracting more than 20,000 riders and walkers in 2021.

Pete’s motivational, diplomatic and flexible approach has also cultivated excellent relationships with the Department of Conservation (DoC), regional forestry companies, the Te Araroa Manawatū Trust, and sits comfortably with other outdoor recreation and environmental groups to the advantage of all track and trail users.

With DoC he has worked on the development, modification and maintenance of Te Ara o Mahurangi, a track at the eastern end of Te Āpiti/Manawatū Gorge.

He has proposed concepts for further trail development in the Ruahine and Tararua Ranges, and at other sites around the region.

Highlighting the benefits of such recreational assets, Pete also contributed to the Te Ahu a Turanga community liaison group that successfully advocated for an active transport pathway along the length of the new highway.

His energy and foresight have helped create a well-used and highly-regarded outdoor adventure playground that sits right on the city’s back doorstep.