20 November 2018
Robert Barry | NZ Autocar
Explorer, adventurer, scientist, conservationist, educator, editor, PhD student and home handyman, Shark Man Riley Elliott is also a Mazda BT-50 ambassador.
“I’m proud to be associated with the brand as an ambassador and I’ve been blown away by the opportunity to become part of the Mazda New Zealand family, because it’s such a inclusive and friendly group of people who reflect the same beliefs and values that I do,” says Riley.
“Since day one I have always felt a great cohesion with my vehicle from the everyday to the more extreme situations, which very much reflects the Mazda philosophy of “Jinba Ittai” meaning horse and rider as one, and you really do feel that whilst taking it to the far corners of New Zealand,” he says.
“Mazda New Zealand is a socially responsible organisation and its philanthropic and environmental philosophies very much mirror my own personal views, the company saw me as a good fit with the brand and we have an amazing relationship thanks to its unique family vibe,” says Riley.
“I was stoked to be asked by Mazda to become involved in its partnership with Project Crimson, where I get to be part of the TREEmendous events at schools around the country, giving me the opportunity to talk to kids about the importance of conservation and caring for the environment we live in,” he says.
From attending Mazda TREEmendous makeovers at primary and intermediate schools with Project Crimson, to towing fully-laden boats, and even carting building materials, Riley says the SHKMAN BT-50 has never missed a beat during the 60,000km it has travelled around New Zealand.
“The BT-50 enables me to enjoy my life and do what I need to do, I can throw everything into it and at it and never worry about it, I just love the fact I can lock the boot up with all our gear inside it,” says Riley.
From towing a heavy boat up a 45 degree angle driveway, to carting equipment up a mountain to an Icebreaker photo shoot, to carrying building materials for a new kitset house, and even being used to remove trees, the SHKMAN BT-50 has taken part in some unconventional adventures, as well as being a long distance tourer, and occasional inner city commuter.
“The BT-50 emotionally engages me, as it’s never let me down, it’s never been incapable, and it’s never embarrassed me,” he says. “The level of respect I have for this vehicle has just grown and grown as it not only suits my lifestyle, it also more than copes with everything that gets thrown at it.”
“The vehicle gives me confidence that it will cope with the hearty things as a ute should do, but it still drives like a car, it’s very comfortable to live with. Having technology such as navigation and a reversing camera is great,” he says.
“It will happily commute in peak hour traffic, and as well as going off-road and doing all sorts of work, we’ve also driven in it to art exhibitions. My fiancee Amber who is a professional photographer also loves driving the BT-50, she is very happy to get behind the wheel,” says Riley.