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By Florence Hinder


On 29 May this year, I traveled to Manantenina, Madagascar with the intention of working with a community of 1300 people to develop a water source for their village. I am a graduate water engineer from the University of Canterbury and I was working alongside others from Duke University.


Flo Hinder Madagascar Cactus Miklat


The Village

Madagascar is a beautiful place at first glance—it’s full of lush rainforests, rivers, and many scattered rice fields. But there is far more to Madagascar than these beautiful vistas. I stayed in the SAVA region, which is a relatively wealthy area of the country. However, the people there still lack basic necessities. You would think such a tropical climate would produce an abundance of clean water, but because of intensive rice farming and free roaming zebu (cows), it’s hard to find clean water sources.

Manantenina gets all its water from a heavily polluted river, which is also used by Mandena, a village situated 2km upstream, for drinking, cooking, washing, grazing cattle and as the village toilet. Clean drinking water taps had been installed in neighbouring villages, which encouraged the people of Manantenina to reach out for help in installing a clean water source of their own.



Above Rice fields surrounding Manantenina village.

Manantenina village, Madagascar.

Above Manantenina village.


All in all the project was a success, and my Cactus gear really held its own. We ended up working very closely with the peoples of Manantenina as well as Mandena, so instead of just working with a population of 1300 people, we ended up working with 4300 people, who we helped in establishing a board of elders tasked with overseeing the upkeep of the project.

It was great to listen to, and work with, both communities to better understand their lives and cultures. We listened to all their suggestions for a good water source and explored options for each suggestion. We picked the most appropriate solution with the help of the village water boards. We also designed an internal tap layout with the water boards in both communities, with particular input from the women’s groups. The women are the ones who fetch the water, so they were the ones we listened to most carefully.

In addition, we have organised for educational training in water, sanitation and hygiene for all water board members from both villages, through the local NGO ‘Save the Children.’ We have also been creating plans and contingency plans for each situation, and students involved in our project will be going back again next year to solely work on more community consultation and further development of the water board.



Above In the Manantenina river.


While in Madagascar, Florence carted piles of stuff around in a Cactus Miklat pack, and fended off mud, dirt, bugs, gravel rash and rapid dogs in a pair of Women's Workfit Supertrousers. 





Women's Workfit Supertrousers

Comments | Posted By Kester Brown

Makara Peak Supporters

20/06/18 2:37 PM

By Bex Houston


Makara Peak Mountain Bike Park is situated in Karori, Wellington. It has a trail network of over 50kms of trails situated in over 250ha of regenerating bush on Wellington City Council land. The park overlooks Wellington Harbour and the Tararua Ranges to the north, and to the south you get spectacular views of the West Wind wind farm, Cook Strait, and the Kaikoura ranges.

The Makara Peak Supporters was established in 1998—the objective of this group is to develop a trail network for local mountain bikers and walkers, and to help restore native forest to the southern end of Karori. Conservation in the park is focused on planting native species, controlling pest plants and trapping pest species such as stoats, possums, rats and mice. MPS philosophy is to plant one native plant for every metre of trail constructed in the park. Last year’s planting season alone saw 2500 saplings planted in the park on a range of trails.

It is the 20th anniversary of the establishment of MPS this year, and there are many examples of the hard work that the volunteers have put in over this time.


makara peak

Above: Looking south from Makara Saddle. The zig-zag trail going up this exposed face is an uphill trail called Varleys. This photo was taken in 1999.

Below: Zoom forward to the present day Varleys, below. Photo taken in 2014.

makara peak


The Makara Peak Mountain Bike Park forms part of a large green belt along with Wrights Hill Reserve and Zealandia (formerly known as the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary). Zealandia is a 225ha area enclosed in a pest-proof fence where forest is also being restored and many native fauna are finding a safe home—among them are several species that have been reintroduced—the endangered kākā and takahē, tuatara and giant weta. We were extremely lucky to have kākā nesting in the Makara Peak Mountain Bike Park this summer. Many park users have been thrilled to ride around on their bikes and witness these birds performing their aerobatics.

Historically, the majority of trails in the park have been hand builds by volunteers, but in recent years there has been a big shift to contractor-built trails. As the demand for trails of a range of difficulty levels outstrips supply, the creation of the ‘Makara Peak Mountain Bike Park Master Plan’ and an increase in funding has led to a large increase in new trails being built each year.


makara peak

Above: Exit from Lazy Fern and SWIGG/Starfish trail (adjacent main car park) circa 1998.

Below: The same area as above, in 2018.

makara peak


Cactus Outdoor gear has been hugely popular with trail builders and conservation crews for use in the park over the years. Thomas Lindup is the main trail building contractor in the park. Thomas works on the trails on a daily basis. The last time I saw Thomas he was working at the top of Makara Peak (412m). An Antarctic southerly graced us with its presence. The temperature for the day was forecast to hit the lofty heights of 9°C—with a chill factor of much lower thrown in there for good measure! Thomas was wearing Lifties pants and a Mountain Jacket to protect him from all that the Wellington weather could throw at him.

Ricky Pincott and myself are on the Makara Peak Supporters committee. We both use our Cactus gear regularly. Ricky spent two and a half years working on Nelson’s Wairoa Gorge trails. While in the gorge, Ricky cut down trees, chipped out countless tonnes of solid rock, moved dirt and helped create a mountain bike thrill seekers’ paradise. Ricky wore his Supertrousers almost every day he was in the, and has now put them into in his work at the Makara park.

Sarah Bramwell is a Makara Peak Supporters legend. Formerly a member of the Makara Peak Supporters Committee, she now works tirelessly in the park. Sarah is one of the main drivers of a planting programme that runs seasonally on the hill. Sarah has planted thousands of saplings on various trails. Sarah maintains bait lines/traps that she checks and clears and has an awesome success rate. In her spare time Sarah is also keen mountain biker. Sarah loves her  Supertrousers and Huntaway pack, saying they’re “vital when working in the park”!

My fave piece of Cactus kit is my Lightweight Supershorts, which I wear not only wear in the park, but also for my work as a Survey Technician and on the rural property we live on.

For more info on the Makara Peak Supporters, the mountain bike park, and the conservation work we do, check out


makara peak

Above: The "Wild at Heart" swing bridge which was opened in March 2017.  The bridge is a 70m long landmark structure - the first of its kind in an urban mountain bike park in New Zealand.  Funding for this project was provided by the Wellington Airport and a huge Give a Little campaign supported by the riders of Wellington and beyond.

Comments | Posted By Kester Brown

Or: 'When marketing overcomes all authenticity.'




–by Ben Kepes 


There's been a lot of recent media attention given to a New Zealand fashion brand that has been selling, for a number of years, t-shirts made in Bangladeshi sweat shops factories that have swingtags on them proudly stating “Fabrique en Nouvelle-Zelande" (Made in New Zealand).


Apparently, the owner of the brand justifies the statement, saying that since the swingtags themselves are made in New Zealand, there is nothing factually incorrect about the statement. The owner is (how ironically) a vociferous defender of New Zealand manufacturing, and has regularly chastised those who don’t meet her purported standards.


Welcome to the post-truth era.


Actually, it is a little complex. I'm a shareholder in Cactus Outdoor, a 25-year old company that manufactures backpacks and apparel here in New Zealand and sells it all around the world. All of our products are lovingly sewn in our own factory, and other independently owned third-party factories, here in New Zealand. We are proudly New Zealand owned and operated, and are proud that we keep many skilled people gainfully employed. Our customers love the fact that our products do what we say they will, and are happy to pay what are, to be fair, quite high prices, in order to receive a product that will give them many, many years of dependable service. 'Fast fashion' we certainly ain’t.


Alas, over the last couple of decades, the apparel industry in New Zealand has been decimated and, whereas in the past there used to be textile mills in every decent-sized town, today there are almost no fabrics made here in New Zealand (other than some merino ones, like Nuyarn, which Cactus uses). Cactus has no options, therefore, but to source some fabrics from overseas. The same goes for buckles and zips etc. So, yes, many of our raw materials come from outside of New Zealand.


But I reiterate, our products are made in New Zealand. We don’t import sewn t-shirts, sew a patch on them locally and call that NZ-made. We don’t try and get away with bunging a locally printed swingtag on the t-shirts that says "Made in New Zealand" on it, and hoping no one notices the "Made in Bangladesh" tag surreptitiously sewn into the hem. From our perspective, if you’re an apparel company and your product is sewn in New Zealand – you’re New Zealand made.


The example World has set is unscrupulous. L’estrange Corbet, World’s founder, has for years waxed poetic about New Zealand manufacturing, and harshly criticised others for moving offshore. All the while she has been duplicitously leading her customers astray.


Claiming a swingtag that is printed in New Zealand justifies an NZ-Made moniker is offensive to her customers, her competitors and the entire local business community. It is also, I believe, a very real breach of the Fair Trading Act and undoubtedly constitutes misleading and deceptive conduct.


While I totally disagree with L’estrange Corbet’s claim that World simply couldn’t make t-shirts in New Zealand (for the record, Cactus does without any problems), my biggest issue is with the lack of truth in what she tells her customers. Apparently, L’estrange Corbet thinks of her customers in the way McDonald’s thinks of theirs – as mere waiting mouths, to fill with products that satisfy a short-term whim, but leave no sense of being sated. Apparently, she has no respect for her customers or their belief about what her product is.


It’s a massive shame, and a sad reflection on this modern, post-truth era.


Luckily there are still brands that are prepared to be up-front and honest, and who are authentic to their ideals.



Comments | Posted By Kester Brown

Riding from the Sheets

9/05/18 3:26 PM

In need of a break from boss-duties at Cactus, Daryl recently took some time out to complete a multi-day bikepacking trip in the Central Otago backcountry.



Bikepacking Central Otago

You know how sometimes life just stacks up on you? Worksheets, spreadsheets, timesheets, all getting to you … then you crack and just need to blow it all off. I got to that point a few weeks ago, so headed to a place far away from any calculations. And beyond how far we could go in a day. It was also a good excuse to give the Cactus bikepacking gear a workout.


John and I manufactured a small window of oportunity, and headed to the remote hills south of Omarama for a 'big spaces' refresher. We set out with very lofty ambitions of riding a bunch of skylines, sleeping rough, and riding until we couldn't ride anymore. In the end, new snow and cold winds moderated our plans, but we still got a long, long way from the week before … on multiple levels. 

We met some characters, experienced some fascinating history, rode and pushed our bikes up to some pretty high places, and felt very isolated. And it was good. 

I love my bike and the amazing places it can take me.


bikepacking lake benmore


bikepacking central otago


bikepacking central otago surly


bikepacking central otago 

Relive 'Morning Activity'

Relive 'Morning Activity'

Comments | Posted By Kester Brown

We've been doing it all wrong.


For 25 years we've been making Cactus products in NZ. But thanks to recent news stories about World and their NZ-made swingtags, we've made the startling realisation that you don't need to actually make your stuff in NZ to market it as NZ-made ... all you need is a magic swingtag, with 'Made in New Zealand' written on it in French! Of course! French. Why didn't someone tell us this already?


So, we've found a few products around the Cactus office that are up for sale as genuine, NZ-made merchandise if anyone's interested …



NZ made apple

Genuine NZ-made Feijoa iMac. 

Running macOSTararuas 10.6.2

3.6 KZ7. 



NZ made microwave

Panasonic Billy-Boiler.

All the microwaves that operate in this machine are 100% made in NZ. (Unless you take it overseas).

Made in Waimatuku.



NZ made Honda

Honda Massey Ferguson. 2-wheeled version.

Perfect for ploughing donuts into any Upper Hutt cul-de-sac.

Assembled by engineering students from Katikati Kindergarten.



nz made boombox


Thundering bass from 700watt subwoofing speakers.

'True Colours' by Split Enz CD stuck in the player.

'Skip/Search', 'Memory' and 'Surround' written on it.

Made in Taupo.



nz made rob


We thought he was from another planet. But this swingtag proves us wrong.

Made in Newtown, Wellington.

Not actually for sale, sorry.

Comments | Posted By Kester Brown

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