Paul Pavletich, from Ararimu, near Pukekohe, has been elected president of Motorcycling New Zealand. Photo by Andy McGechan,

Motorcycling New Zealand, the governing body for motorcycling activities in this part of the world, has a new president.

He is Ararimu’s Paul Pavletich, a man who should be no stranger to the Kiwi motorcycling community. He won the mandate at the weekend’s MNZ AGM in Wellington by just three votes over the only other presidential candidate, Wellington businessman Mike McLeod, and Pavletich therefore takes over the reins from outgoing president Noel May, of Timaru.

McLeod remains on the MNZ board, continuing to work in his governance role for the Off-road (North Island) aspect of the organisation. Meanwhile, Rolleston’s Gretchen Pirika was a fresh appointee to the corresponding Off-Road (South Island) position.

Pavletich, many times a champion on the national road-racing scene, was formerly the Chief Executive Officer of Motorcycling New Zealand (MNZ) and he arrives in the new role with a ton of experience and with valuable insight into the organisation.

“I am looking forward to the challenge and to working in co-operation with the MNZ board members and commissioners,” he said.

Pavletich, who was also the chief instructor at the Auckland Motorcycle Club for 12 years, this month took up a new position as motorcycle riding tutor for the New Zealand Automobile Association (NZAA), also working hand-in-glove with the Ride Forever scheme, an Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) initiative aimed at giving riders sound information and access to training.

So it’s fair to say that motorcycling has been Pavletich’s life and, in his new role as MNZ president, he says he will seek to enhance and strengthen the organisation.

“It was a very close vote for the presidency again. But I’m honoured to be given the nod,” he said.

“My background as being a club president and former CEO for MNZ gives me a good insight into the mechanics of it.

“I have some key projects that I see are relatively low-hanging fruit where we can really add some value to our members and make it a stronger organisation.

“I understand times are hard financially for most folks and racing is a luxury, so we need to work out a more affordable path to grow the sport and engage the next generation better,” he said.

“We have to make the sport more affordable for people to compete.

“I see that the future is quite bright. I think we are in a good position going forward.

“My aims, in no particular order, are that I want to see more women involved in motorcycling, more officials and more riders.

“I’d love to see an academy formed, across all the disciplines, like what we had when New Zealand hosted the FIM Junior World Motocross Championships in Taupo (in 2009). We need to help teach riders about dealing with the media, motivation, nutrition, riding techniques and so on  being coached.

“We have (former MNZ president and CEO) Sandra Perry as our women’s commissioner now and she’s a tireless worker and she’ll be great to work alongside. We were a great tag team in the past.

“Her husband Murray is a Life Member of MNZ and has been a senior steward and done everything really. I’m impressed with the board too, they’re a good combination of talented people.

“Other areas of focus will include raising motorcycle competition profile with the public, improving circuit safety and working towards having more international competition within multiple disciplines.”

Meanwhile, new MNZ board member Gretchen Pirika has been intimately involved with motorcycling over many years and she will bring a wealth of experience to her new role.

“I have been involved with motocross for many years, since my husband Johnny raced, and I am currently secretary of the Christchurch Off-Road Motorcycle Club,” she said.

“I am an MNZ clerk and steward and have organised many events in the past. Being a female member on the board should help too, perhaps offering a different viewpoint to discussions.”

The remainder of the MNZ governance board comprises Napier’s SJ Cavell (Road, North Island); Upper Hutt’s Mike McLeod (Dirt, North Island) Christchurch’s Dennis Charlett (Road, South Island); Tauranga’s Scott Wilkins (CGO, North Island rep) and Arrowtown’s Rod Price (South Island rep).

Credit: Words and photo by Andy McGechan,