BBM inspires Māori & Pasifika to shape up for World's Biggest Bootcamp

By Mahina Hurkmans

The Brown Buttabean Movement (BBM) has been on a mission to reduce alarming obesity statistics among Māori and Pasifika. They are encouraging whānau to choose an active lifestyle to ensure a long and healthy life.

Te Ao reporter Mahina Hurkmans worked out with the BBM team as they prepare for the upcoming World's Biggest Bootcamp event. 

"Through BBM and changing my diet, I'm no longer a diabetic. I've come off my diabetic medication and I've lost over 20 kgs," Miria Andrews (Tainui) says.

David Letele is passionate about improving the health of Māori and Pasifika communities.

"It's really to raise awareness around something that's plaguing our people: obesity, depression, loneliness," he says.

More commonly known as the Brown Buttabean, Letele is helping young and old get healthier.

"Showing them what's possible, it might inspire them to keep working hard."

Some of those training for the bootcamp have had health challenges in their whānau.

"I've been to four tangi in my whānau. Out of the four members of my whānau that died, two died of heart disease, stroke, and two of them were young, they were in their 50s," Andrews says. 

Other team members have also had to overcome their own health issues.

"Basically, doctors told me I need to do something about my weight or next time they'll see me is inside the morgue. So that hit and then I came out and found Brown Buttabean. Long story short, I've lost over 140 kgs," Phil Tele'a says.

This year will be the second year running of the World's Biggest Bootcamp in Auckland and Letele wants to give participants the same experience that top athletes experience when playing at Eden Park.

"We're going to warm up like you would for a normal match. We're going to have all the different health activators there, with blood pressure, diabetes checks, we'll have all that there. And then we're going to be welcomed onto the field with Māori warriors, have a proper pōwhiri, and then we're going to sing the national anthem and then do the haka," Letele says.

"We'll be there and it'll be BBM certified," he says.

The BBM team will gather, along with many others, at Eden Park in March for the World's Biggest Bootcamp.