A friend of late rugby great Jonah Lomu will use Whanganui and the New Zealand Master's Games to launch a nationwide anti-obesity movement, honouring a committment the two friends made more than a decade ago.
Henry Vaeoso is the face of Onyou, a movement designed to tackle obesity throughout New Zealand, but particularly among his own Samoan community. The term 'on you' is commonly used in the middle of the tight five in rugby.
"Some 15 years ago I started this journey with my dearest friend the late Jonah Vitale Lomu. Sadly his dream will never be realised, but his spirit will always be with us," Mr Vaeoso said.
With backing of Rotary New Zealand, Mr Vaeoso will kick off Onyou during next month's Master's Games in Whanganui. He will lead an aerobics demonstration at the War Memorial Hall, accompanied by several local Rotarians and celebrities.
"It's a way of raising awareness in a fun way of a serious issue faced by far too many New Zealanders," Mr Vaeoso, a former New Zealand aerobics champion, said.
According to the Ministry of Health New Zealand has the third highest adult obesity rate in the OECD, and rates are rising. Almost one in three adult New Zealanders (over 15 years) is obese, and one in ten children.
Obesity leads to numerous health problems which can ultimately be fatal.
Mr Vaeoso intends taking the demonstration around the country following its debut in Whanganui on February 11.
Then in November, on the anniversary of Lomu's death, an attempt at a world record will be made at Eden Park for the largest aerobics class. The target is 48,000 people and will feature a host of New Zealand sporting legends.
"The Onyou challenge is the first event on a journery to beat obesity and build a healthier New Zealand," Mr Vaeoso said.
"Our plan is to create a movement led by New Zealand's sporting heroes to start lifting ourselves up by our bootstraps to create a healthier New Zealand for current and future generations - and have some fun along the way."
All Blacks, Warriors, Silver ferns and Black Caps, will put their bodies and reputations on the line and brave the stage carrying out choreographed aerobics routines, inviting all participants to join them in an attempt at the record.
Convincing the "Big fella" about aerobics was easy, Mr Vaeoso said. "We both love music and movement." He said Eden Park was a suitable venue for the record attempt as not only was it large enough but also paid tribute to Lomu.
Another All Black great, Michael Jones, had stepped up as Patron, following Lomu's death.
Rotary district govenor Bob Smith said Rotary had taken on the Onyou challenge as a national project.
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