South Auckland is renowned for being a vibrant and lively area rich in culture, home to a large Pasifika and Māori community. However, like any community has its challenges, South Auckland has long battled with obesity and other associated health issues.

To combat this, Tongan South Auckland local Pat Hufanga established BeastMode Fitness (BMF) in 2020. BMF is a community fitness group with the purpose of encouraging exercise and healthier living. 

Founder Pat shared, “My inspiration behind starting BMF was my mother. She was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes so I started trying to look after her health

I looked at it from the bigger picture and started trying to help the community out, especially our Pacific Islanders. Lots of our community are diagnosed with diabetes, high blood pressure, and other health problems.”

Pat is backed by family, friends, and his support team including administrator Lucky Tu’uholoaki and his sister, Kiwi Ferns, and Brisbane Broncos star centre Mele Hufanga.

Originally a dual-code athlete, Mele fully committed to rugby league in 2022 when she was selected for the Kiwi Ferns Rugby League World Cup squad. She earned a signing with the Brisbane Broncos for 2023 where she shined on the NRLW stage, so much so that she was awarded Dally M Centre of the Year.

Following her second Kiwi Ferns campaign in the 2023 Pacific Championships, Mele has been spending the off-season supporting her brother by helping coach the current Season Five of the BMF programme.

BMF operates a ‘six-week challenge’ programme, where members aim to lose as much weight as possible by the end of six weeks. Coaches Pat and Mele run group exercise classes six days of the week and sometimes twice daily, while members are encouraged to make healthy diet improvements.

“My brother’s goal for the future of BMF is to open his own gym so that our community, ‘aiga, family, and whānau can come into a space and feel safe. I 100% support him.”

Mele Hufanga


“BMF started in 2020, we started up at a park with a group of 10 people. Now it’s Season Five and we’ve got over 200 people.” shared Pat.

Although based in South Auckland, the mostly Pasifika and Māori BMF members come from all areas of the city and when visiting a training session, it was clear why the programme had grown so quickly in four years.

The Manukau hall quickly filled with music, smiling faces, and positive vibes. As the members of all different ages joined in the boot camp-style exercises, the room was loud with words and yells of of encouragement. 

“Everyone comes from different walks of life and now shares their journeys with each other,” Pat said.

Mele shared, “Even though this is a programme with a lot of people from different backgrounds and different places, they’ve all come together. It’s not just a community it’s also a family.

“My rugby league background has helped me a lot…I just want to be that role model for them. If I can do what I do on the field, then I can always help however I can for BMF as well.

Find out more about BeastMode Fitness and their work in the South Auckland community here.


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