South Auckland's BBM gets funds to help boost health

Source: Te Karere

The Ministry of Health has pledged $500,000 over two years to Brown Buttabean Motivation (BBM) in Manukau, to help people in the community improve their health and wellbeing.

Dave Letele

BBM founder Dave "Brown Buttabean" Letele says the funding will help bring much needed fitness training to people who can’t afford it.

“One of the biggest barriers for people is cost. So how can a trainer do what we do for free is by being funded,” Letele told Te Karere.

BBM was founded by former boxer Letele after he himself lost 100kgs. He then offered his support and skills to the community.

He turned to his Māori heritage to help him in his quest, basing BBM on the Whare Tapa Whā (four-sided house) health model pioneered by Sir Mason Durie.

Te Whare Tapa Whā – Holistic Wellbeing

The model states people have four aspects, physical, spiritual, mental and family. Any imbalances in any of these aspects are detrimental to a person’s health. BBM seeks to restore those imbalances through fitness training, diet advice and ongoing support.

“It's just like a marae, like society used to be. Where you know they say it takes a village to raise a baby. That's gone now. And what we're doing is bringing it back,” Letele said.

The Ministry of Health want to duplicate BBM’s success across the country - part of the funding will be used for a research project with Massey University.

“All the mahi we’re doing to is going to be evaluated, trying to find out why is this working? Why is this making such a big impact on not only obesity, type two diabetes, type one diabetes, depression, everything?”

Part of that holistic wellbeing is BBM’s community food share programme, which has fed 40,000 people in this Delta outbreak alone.

Support from the Health Sector

On Friday BBM hosted Associate (Māori) Minister of Health Peeni Henare, who said community health outlets like BBM are key to creating healthy communities.

Peeni Henare

“I don’t want to open up more renal units across the country,” Henare said.

“Where I'd rather see our investment and our energy go is into kaupapa, like this kaupapa that teaches whānau how to eat well, and how to live well.”

That sentiment was backed by Rob Campbell, interim head of Hauora Aotearoa (Health NZ).

"80 per cent of what makes a community healthy happens outside the hospital and formal health system."

Current Ministry of Health statistics state that one in three New Zealanders over the age of 15 are obese. Almost 10 per cent of NZ children are obese as well. The Ministry notes that while child obesity rates have been on a decline since 2019, it’s too early to tell if that’s a trend.