The Flaxmere community is being celebrated in a new web documentary series that takes the viewer into the life of a barber and those who visit him for a haircut.

The Barber focuses on Somehz Touch Barbershop owner Peleti Oli-Alainu'uese, the other barbers who work there, and the community who visits.

His shop is in the Hastings suburb St Leonards, but many of Oli-Alainu'uese's clientele visit from his home in Flaxmere.

It is considered a sanctuary for the predominately Māori and Samoan men (and occasional woman) who visit the shop.


"Everyone comes here," Oli-Alainu'uese said.

"Kids come here because they can be themselves. Businessmen come here, celebrities, mobsters."

His journey to become the barber he is has not been easy, however.

He was taught to cut hair by a friend in high school called John Whenui.

"I'd go to his house and he'd cook us a feed and he'd cut my hair and I'd cut his.

"John passed away and I took the knowledge. I've been careful with his knowledge. It is special to me."

He then passed on the skill to his younger brother.

His brother's suicide a few years ago almost led to him giving up cutting hair.

Peleti Oli-Alainu'uese with his son Tai-Crow at the launch of new show The Barber. Photo / Duncan Brown
Peleti Oli-Alainu'uese with his son Tai-Crow at the launch of new show The Barber. Photo / Duncan Brown

As his family lined up for haircuts before his brother's funeral, he thought it would be the last time he cut hair.

"But as I was cutting I felt solace. I felt at peace with myself and with my brother.

"It took my barbering to another level."

Now he teaches the street kids who hang out at the shop how to cut hair.

"I say to these kids, we're making it in Flaxmere so you can make it."

The series aims to show the viewer a different side of Flaxmere, a community often associated with poverty and violence.

The show is about hope, and the importance of being kind to one another even in the face of adversity.

The show is eight episodes long, and can be viewed at Māori TV on demand at

Some episodes focus on Oli-Alainu'uese and his shop, while others will delve into the life of clients and their world away from the barbershop.