Peleti Oli getting started
It has been a whirlwind ride for Peleti Oli, as he campaigned successfully to become a Hastings District councillor representing Flaxmere.
He is the first to admit that he has a lot to learn as he starts on his first three years of working for the people of Flaxmere and the wider district under the formal council structure.
Peleti is well-known in the community and across New Zealand for his passion for helping men improve their mental health, not least using his barbering skills as a way to get men to talk about what is bothering them.
His latest venture in that realm is joining Men’s Medicine, an Australian-based organisation that helps men fight depression and suicidal thoughts.
“As many people know, I lost my brother in 2012 to suicide. I will do anything I can to stop that happening to other families; to not let his death be in vain.”
But Peleti also knows that Council is about pipes, footpaths and parks – all of the things that residents need to be able to go about their daily lives.
He saw getting into politics as a “position where I can be of assistance in all those areas; but particularly for the voiceless”.
The district’s Pasifika people don’t know how Council impacts on their daily lives, or how to interact with it, he says. “There are some great people doing some great things in our community but still there are big gaps in statistics like health and housing. I want to draw our leaders and our people together so that we can do even more.”
He says he could not have achieved what he has to date without the support of his wife Jonique, with whom he has three boys: Jesiah (9), Someh (7) and Tai-Crow (1.5).
Life can get pretty tricky; running a business, backing mental health initiatives, teaching barbering at the Premier Institute of Education (although he finishes there in a couple of weeks), and having a young family. He laughs, saying he will have to vastly improve his time-management skills now that he has added Council to the mix.