Dave Letele encouraging others to do good in their hood

Community May 10, 2024

He’s motivated thousands of New Zealanders to get fit and healthy through his free gyms and fitness programmes, and now Dave Letele (Ngāti Maniapoto) is giving a push to community groups to get involved with one of the country’s best-known fundraising projects. 

Dave was named 2022 Local Hero of the Year for his Buttabean Motivation (BBM) fitness and foodshare programmes that support whānau across Auckland and Tokoroa. He’s also the ambassador for Z Energy’s (Z) Good in the Hood programme, which shares $1 million every year to charities and community groups across Aotearoa.

Founded in the wake of the Christchurch earthquakes as a way of supporting the local community, Good in the Hood officially launched nationwide in 2013. Since then, it has donated over $10 million to groups working to make a positive change in the communities they serve.

Among the hundreds of organisations to have benefitted from Good in the Hood funding over the past decade are Good Bitches Baking, which distributes volunteer-made sweet treats to people going through tough times; Meat the Need, a Wairarapa organisation that works with farmers to donate mince and milk powder to families in need; and Big Buddy, the charity that makes a difference to boys without a dad in their lives. 

As part of Z’s commitment to represent and the reflect the communities they serve, the team set a target that 17% of support from Good in the Hood would go towards Māoriled organisations – the same percentage of Māori in our population.

As Good in the Hood ambassador, Dave is dedicated to helping Z achieve that goal. After all, he has first-hand experience of the magic that can happen when frontline organisations are working within their own communities. From a single Facebook group, BBM has grown into a remarkable network of community boot camps, gyms, and food banks, including Tokoroa’s social supermarket for whānau experiencing food insecurity. 

“Everything we do in our communities is free because we believe that if you can help, you should. And that’s exactly what Z believes too,” says Dave.

To get involved with Good in the Hood, organisations complete an application form explaining who they are and what they do. The finalists are selected with the input of their local Z retailer and site staff. Customers then get to decide how they want the Good in the Hood funding shared between the groups. With $4,000 per service station, customers who shop in store are given an orange token to drop in one of four boxes corresponding to their chosen group and the votes then decide what portion of the $4,000 each group gets. A further $1,000 for each service station is earmarked to enable retailers and site staff to support community groups throughout the year.

A key part of the campaign is spotlighting truly local organisations – the sort of community groups that tend to struggle to get access to corporate funding. The problem isn’t only that these smaller groups lack the branding and profile of larger, better-known charities. As the cost-of-living crisis takes hold, Dave says, “More and more community groups are applying for the same funding, so there’s less money to go round. It’s just really tough.”

Good in the Hood is “an amazing initiative in terms of getting money into the community where it’s needed,” says Dave. “The model that we use at BBM is community working alongside business and government all for the common good. When companies like Z get behind initiatives, it’s huge.”

The relationship between Z and BBM runs deep. Building on Dave’s Good in the Hood ambassadorship, the two organisations recently signed a three-year funding agreement that will support BBM’s community work, from free fitness classes and groups for at-risk rangatahi (youth) to programmes that address the growing problem of food insecurity in Aotearoa.

“We’re always looking at ways to maximise the positive impact we have on our communities,” says Abbie Bull, Z’s Head of Community and Sustainability. “Our mahi with Dave and his organisation allows us to make a difference for the communities we’re part of.”

Dave says the funding has been transformative. Z answered his mayday call after BBM was on the verge of cutting support for 500 families due to a lack of government funding. “When we got Z’s funding it was like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders,” he says.

With Good in the Hood 2024 about to get underway, Dave says he’s looking forward to seeing more diverse groups get involved than ever before. So, does he have any advice for groups applying for the first time? 

“Social media is key,” he says. “You have to have a presence online. Highlight the issues that are in your community and how you’re doing your best to fix them. You need some kind of brand recognition, so that when people come into that store to vote, they know who you are and what you do.”

Applications for Good in the Hood will be open 1 - 30 June 2024. Head to Good in the Hood for more information.