About Dave Letele
David Letele is living, breathing proof that obesity can be overcome – and an inspiration to thousands of Kiwis.
Dave “The Brown Buttabean” Letele is of Māori and Samoan heritage. As a child, Dave’s father was president of the Mongrel Mob, and he grew up around prisons and criminal activity.
Throughout his life, Dave has experienced massive highs and lows, from early sporting success to the failure of his supermarket business in Australia. He lost everything, including his family, and returned to New Zealand with only the clothes on his back, weighing in at over 200 kgs.
He turned to prize fighting to earn money and get fit, sharing his fitness journey on social media. He lost over 100 kilograms, and the public response to his efforts built up the movement that became Buttabean Motivation or BBM.
For nearly ten years, this community leader has worked tirelessly to create opportunities for people. He has set up free gyms in West and South Auckland, and Tokoroa, a community kitchen, a social supermarket in Tokoroa, and a Foodshare which regularly feeds thousands of people. BBM’s “From The Couch” programme provides never-before-seen health benefits to underserved people. Every year BBM works with the Middlemore Foundation to provide Christmas to hundreds of families doing it tough.
With BBM, Dave has created a model of giving that includes partnering with business and the Government to provide practical help to people, using social media to drive engagement. When Cyclone Gabrielle hit in February 2023, he used the experience gained in the Auckland Anniversary flooding to support families across the East Coast and Hawke’s Bay regions, mobilising local community providers with access to cash for exactly what they needed.
Dave’s outspoken leadership means he is often in the media, and talking to key government and community organisations, agitating for positive change. He shows that negative cycles can be broken, with the right support, good people, and dedication.