Two local charities are $200,000 richer today thanks to the generosity of Tauranga's Lotto Powerball winner, Lou Te Keeti.

Mr Te Keeti presented cheques worth $100,000 each to Waipuna Hospice and the local Heart Foundation.

A further $100,000 would be handed over later in the week to a local diabetes charity, to be used, in particular, for Maori.

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At the offices of local Tauranga lawyers Cooney Lees Morgan, Mr Te Keeti's nephew, Charlie Rahiri, (Ngati Ranginui) opened the meeting with a karakia at 11.11am, believed to be a special number in the universe.

Mr Te Keeti acknowledged the significant time of the meeting was a nod to his friend, iwi leader the late Te Awanuiarangi (Awanui) Black who was born at 11.11am and died in December last year at just 48.

"Our great leader who had his own last blessing, in fact, at Waipuna Hospice."

Mr Te Keeti said he had thought about giving money "for many years".

"Maori people figure high in heart and diabetes statistics and many leave this earth and are delivered home through the hospice."

Mr Rahiri, a manager at Mauri Ora, an iwi health project that encourages whanau to increase their health literacy, said latest diabetes statistics for Maori were particularly dire.

"You only have to walk through the urupa [cemetery] to see that people are dying at 55, and that is wrong.

"The state of diabetes in the Western Bay is the worst it's ever been, particularly in the last six months. We had done well over the past six years but it's taken a dive.


He acknowledged it could be hard for local charities to get government funding, despite delivering valuable services to people. "That usually goes to the big boys."

Mr Rahiri recited a traditional blessing during the handover of the cheques for "growth, connectedness and prosperity".

The only caveat the lawyer put on the cheques was that the money had to be used to benefit people in the Western Bay of Plenty.

Local writer Tommy Kapai, who is an elected iwi representative on the board of Waipuna Hospice, received the $100,000 for the hospice and embraced Mr Te Keeti with an emotion-filled hongi.

Mr Kapai said the hospice was a place of "awhi angels", and that it was significant that the facility had employed Tina Parata, a senior staff member dedicated to working with Maori and their cultural needs at Waipuna. It was a place special to him personally: "Mum died there with a lot of dignity."

Mr Kapai, a diabetic himself, said that good kai management and putting health in language that people understood was an important step in reducing the poor statistics.

Kat Macmillan, the Heart Foundation's heart health advocate for the Midland Region, said the funds would go directly to local people and their whanau affected by heart disease.

"There are 172,000 people living with heart disease, and we acknowledge that heart-disease statistics with Maori are particularly concerning."

Local Heart Foundation ambassador Tracey Rudduck-Gudsell, who herself had a heart condition, urged people to get regular checks.

Mr Te Keeti himself said he did go regularly to the doctor but was "not a model patient".

"I have often played 'Russian Roulette' with my health ... I reached a good age and I have a good place to go, my cemetery is just over there and it is a lovely place ... but since my win that has changed. Now I want a few more years on this earth to get some good things done ... so I think the win has given me a wake-up call."

He said he attended up to 100 local tangi a year, council meetings and other hui which meant he was often eating out.

He said he preferred traditional Maori fare cooked by wife Val, who would make his favourite: "boil-up and fish-heads".