Brown Pride: The South Auckland gym ‘by the people, for the people’

“All I wanted to do was just show other people from the same background as me that anything is possible, even if it hasn't been done yet.”

In 2017, Johnnie Timu and his friends took a leap of faith and started @brownpride_nz - a gym in South Auckland that does things differently. 

From a counsellor coming on Fridays to check in with its members, to having an inhouse barbershop that helps train young barbers and give out free haircuts to people in need, Brown Pride is what ‘by the people, for the people’ looks like. 

One of Brown Pride’s funders is The Southern Initiative. It’s an Auckland City Council entity that funds programmes to help address inequality in South and West Auckland, which have large Māori and Pasifika populations.

The Southern Initiative was among other community initiatives that were facing the axe as part of Auckland City Council budget cuts. But, Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown has since backtracked, deciding against making such drastic cuts to the arts and social services.

“I have listened carefully to public feedback and the views of elected members. There is just about a consensus that Auckland Council should not proceed with all the cuts to social and cultural spending that council staff proposed to me in December,” Mayor Brown said.

“While a substantial reduction in operating expenditure across the Group remains crucial to balancing the budget, which will include some cuts to regional services, I agree that we should not proceed with the cuts that come at the expense of services that are highly valued by local communities.”

The final budget proposal will be tabled at the Governing Body in early June.

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