Brown Pride is dedicated to making a difference to the lives of young people, offering a range of physical and cultural programmes designed to provide opportunities. Picture courtesy of Brown Pride.

From fitness regimes to music and dance, and from boxing to mentoring programmes, Brown Pride is making a difference in the lives of young people in South Auckland.

Manurewa Local Board Deputy Chair Melissa Moore visited the Manukau-based gym that offers new futures alongside weights, skipping ropes and punching bags recently.

“The board decided to provide funding to the group, and we’ve watched it develop and grow and become instrumental in providing new paths and opportunities not only for rangatahi from Manurewa, but from across South Auckland,” she says.

“It was awesome to visit Brown Pride and see a kaupapa that’s empowering Pasifika and Māori rangatahi to live out their passions, unlock their potential and even start businesses.”

Moore says funding programmes for alternative pathways for education and employment isn't the board’s core business.

“But through our Youth Connections work in partnership with The Southern Initiative we’ve been able to provide seed funding and support some amazing work making a difference for youth in our community.

“It was inspiring to see the organisation’s growth and the range of programmes it offers, and to hear about the successes of the rangatahi who have engaged and gone on to a range of employment but also who have just benefitted from having a place of connection and belonging.”

Brown Pride started when a group of friends decided to open a gym and promote various fitness classes to reach out to young people in the Pasefika and Māori community.

Since then, Johnnie Timu has seen Brown Pride grow into much more than a gym, today also providing a barbershop, a music label and a youth support group that helps rangatahi make good choices around their futures.

“Board chair Joseph Allan and I were lucky enough to meet two Manurewa young people who had just passed their forkhoist licences, but who were also making waves in the music industry thanks Brown Pride’s support, and their smiles and confidence said it all,” Moore says.

Timu is grateful for the funding the board and others have been able to supply.

“We were just ordinary Samoan guys with no qualifications or fat wallets who were sick of working weekdays and wasting our weekends, and who wanted to make a difference.

“We’re still only just getting started and we have big ambitions and plans.”

Those plans have included weight loss challenges, athletic scholarships, a record label that enables young people to express their talent under supervision and with professional advice, small group exercise training and even its own army.

Timu says the Brown Army is the name for youth who come under the group’s wing. “We help get them into new challenges and opportunities. Whether it be in sport or in new careers.”

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