Former gang member cycling 620km to raise money for homeless shelter

A notorious former gang member has thrown in his patch for a life dedicated to helping others with mental illness. 

Hamish Hiroki is cycling 620 kilometres to raise money for a homeless shelter. 

Six weeks ago, Hiroki was the national president of the outlaw motorcycle club, 'The Bandidos'.

The father of three-year-old Jordan has since given up his patch.

"For my son you know, I definitely do not want him to follow in my footsteps, because he hasn't lived the life that I've lived," Hiroki told Newshub.

Hiroki moved to Australia as a boy but was deported home as part of their crackdown on bikies.

This time last year, he was in the darkest place of his life.

"You just sort of feel yourself being enclosed in a dark hole and you know you can't really find a way out," he explains.

Suffering from anxiety and depression, a suicide attempt changed his life. 

"Then when I came to and just thought, 'What the hell have I done'. I was so angry with myself after it," he says.

Hiroki realised he needed to change and started opening up about his struggles. 

"I challenge all the big males - all the big alpha males out there you know - try it, you'll feel a lot better after," he advises.

Now, Hiroki helps others to do the same.

"We have a men's group on a Thursday night... we just sit up here and have a talk and a feed... you show up [feeling] heavy and leave a lot lighter," he says.

The builder is slowly converting the meeting space into a homeless shelter. 

"Purely just to help people... you walk through town on a Thursday night, there's homeless everywhere - and it shouldn't be like that."

Once completed, the shelter will house between 30 and 40 people. Special bedrooms are being built for families with children. 

To raise funds, Hiroki has swapped his motorcycle for a bicycle. 

He's cycling from Christchurch to Bluff in a Christmas elf suit to raise funds to help build the shelter. 

"I'll more than likely feel like throwing the towel in about a million times on the way, but those sort of challenges I'm certainly looking forward to. What doesn't challenge you, doesn't change you," he says.

Hiroki is hoping to reach Bluff in just seven days - and hoping to get a few laughs with his new outfit.