Josh Te Kani has dreadlocks, tattoos - including a traditional tā moko pūhoro - and wears a whale bone necklace that's the size of his fist.
They're features that turn heads, but they're also features that he's thought to hide.
When the Ngāi Te Rangi iwi youth co-ordinator and Moana Radio host stood as a councillor at large candidate for the Tauranga City Council, he wondered if he'd be better received if he covered his skin in a business suit.
"Māori for Māori" is what he feared voters would think, rather than asking: "Who is best for the job?"
A month on from voting, and the broadcaster who was an unsuccessful latecomer to the campaign, concedes it was sad that he thought that, just as it was sad Tauranga councillor Andrew Hollis labelled the Treaty "a joke" and "an iwi gravy train" during campaigning.
Ultimately, we all desire the same things and have the same values, Te Kani says.
"We're still working our way through it as a society and growing that middle ground between the far right and the far left."
Māori are in a big recovery stage, particularly in Tauranga Moana where, as "descendants of confiscation", all three Tauranga iwi are working to reconnect their history.
The tribunal settlement process "siloed" them for more than two decades but there's been a resurgence in their connection and an effort to mend their "identity crisis", particularly for the betterment of young Māori.
Nowadays, Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāti Ranginui and Ngāti Pukenga are one big family, albeit very different in their traditions.
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"It's very important that we have our uniqueness as iwi, but again, that narrative can't be shared without the coming together of those three as well," Te Kani says.
His life passion is in mentoring youth in tikanga Māori, as well as the art of Māori weaponry, kapa haka (he's kaitātaki tane for Tauranga kapa haka group Tūtara Kauika ki Rangataua); and the revitalisation of te reo Māori.
As well as being a radio host and youth worker, he helps with Waitangi Tribunal claims, offers cultural advisory and content creation through his business Kotuia Ltd, and plays rugby for Rangataua Sports and Cultural Club.
Where the average eye sees someone who is busy, an energetic Te Kani, 34, sees only opportunities.
He grew up in a tight-knit Christian family in Matapihi where his parents George and Moana didn't speak te reo Māori, largely because the generation before them had been suppressed from speaking it as English became the more dominant language in New Zealand.
His curiosity, however, was piqued, and he wanted to learn.
"I really do love our Māoritanga and continue to chase it with a passion," he says.
Now fluent in the language, he left Mount Maunganui College in 2003 and joined Polynesian dance troupe Island Breeze International on an Impact World Tour (IWT) of New Zealand, before following them to the United States.
During that time he formed a relationship with fellow performer and childhood friend Whakaawa Kawe.
Following the end of the American tour the pair went to Hawaii for six months, where Whakaawa's brother Eruera "Ed" lived.
Whakaawa then flew home to New Zealand and Te Kani went on to do another tour but found himself missing her and came home.
They married in 2007, returned to Hawaii for two-and-a-half years, before coming home to Tauranga to start a family. They have two sons, Frankie, 8, and Taiki, 5.
Te Kani went on to gain a broadcasting qualification and has won national awards for radio programming. He produces his own show, Mana Moana, on Moana Radio (98.2FM and 1440AM).
His decision to enter broadcasting serendipitously connected him with two key mentors in his life - the late Wiparata Ngātoko and the late Awanuiarangi Black.
Ngātoko, affectionately known as Russell or "Rustler" to friends, died of cancer last year.
The 37-year-old was one of the early presenters on Mai Time, a television show for Māori youth, and had worked on Moana Radio with Te Kani.
Under his tutorship, and that of Black who died in 2016, Te Kani's understanding of te reo and tikanga "accelerated".
Black encouraged Te Kani to help out with commemorations for the New Zealand Land Wars in 2012, and part of that was to teach the haka that was written for the battle of Pukehinahina (Gate Pā) between Tauranga iwi and the Crown in 1864, and educate people about our history.
"We were looking to gather the biggest group of warriors that Tauranga had seen," Te Kani says, explaining that he and others travelled around the North Island for six months teaching the story of Gate Pā and the haka.
"We pulled 850 to 1000 (men, women and youth) and they all showed up. It was amazing. It was huge.
"The biggest Tauranga had ever seen, I'd say."
He wears a double-sided "rei puta" style whale bone taonga, gifted to him by his wife's family for the role that he played in the commemoration of Pukehinahina.
Carved by Tauranga's Jason Porter, it symbolises conflict on one side and peace on the other.
Seven years on, and he's also participated in commemorations for war battles at Rangiriri, Ruapekapeka, Te Tarata, Maungapōhatu, Kororāreka, Te Kupenga ā Taramainuku and most recently, Taranaki, on the day set to commemorate the New Zealand Land Wars: October 28.
When asked what his best quality is, he feels that it's his ability to connect.
He humorously notes that his worst would be that he talks too much and thinks he knows everything.
His spirit animal would be the orca because they're cool, strong and powerful but can also work in a pod.
He has lots of friends because he likes the strength that you find in numbers.
His sister Aisha Te Kani , whom Bay of Plenty Times Weekend interviewed in March about her unique heart condition, says her brother is a visionary and has always been able to see beyond what may present as a problem or an issue.
"People are important to him and in that, he values them so.
"I've watched him his whole life step into the gap to ensure that others are cared for, considered and prioritised. He's done just that for me as my brother, and one of my closest friends.
"He can see the vision and at the same time, he will be the first to pick up the spade."
Through Ngāi Te Rangi's rangatahi unit, he has developed Koiora, a programme that reconnects kids to their natural environment.
He also helps run a leadership forum for older youth called Te Rangi Hou; and a 10 week justice programme called Te Tuakiri which seeks to ask young offenders "who are you beyond your skin?".
He also runs the mau rākau programme which teaches traditional Māori martial arts.
He has a register of up to 200 children a year wanting to learn.
"It's enlightenment, it's understanding and a pathway to better health," he says, adding that mental health is a priority.
"Our Māori kids are getting to the end of a road, a dark place, and because there's nothing for them to hold onto they jump, but if they've got something, a lifeline, that is an understanding of their identity, the hope is it will bind and strengthen them.
"I have definitely seen the lights come on in kids when the realisation comes that:
'I'm not alone no matter what'."
He doesn't like referring to teenagers as "leaders of tomorrow" because tomorrow is too far away, he says, adding they are "chiefs and chieftainesses today" and respond better when treated as equals.
His wife Whakaawa Te Kani believes young people respond to her husband because he's genuine and he puts what he talks about into action.
"He never comes in with a preconceived notion or judgment. His character is very loving and accepting," she says.
"People are attracted to him because he's a safe space, and he will always stand up for what he believes in."
When his mentors Ngātoko and Black passed away, he was determined to carry on with what they had started and hasn't stopped seeking out knowledge since, she says.
He will stand for council again in 2022, feeling proud to have inspired "korero" amongst teens around the elections, and he has loftier ambitions for them.
"If I can't get my foot in the door, I know they're the kind of people who will kick it down.
"Everything that I've been given, that all needs to come back tenfold."