Phillip Reweti has announced he is standing for Whanganui District Council to build a safer future for his grandchildren.

"I have nine kids and 10 grandchildren - it is about them," he said.

Reweti is a well-known figure in the Whanganui community often seen protesting on a range of social and environmental concerns.

He is known as "Bear" to many and says he was given the nickname while working at Imlay Freezing Works where he was employed for 38 years.


"There was an American TV show in the early 80s called B. J. And the Bear.

"I worked with a guy who had the same name as me and they called him Brutus. It was so we would know which one of us was being spoken to."

Reweti said he was locked out after control of the company changed a few years ago and that has strengthened his dedication to advocating for workers' rights and workplace health and safety.

"I still belong to the Meat Workers' Union and safe employment will always be a big issue for me."

An outspoken opponent of 1080, Reweti is often seen with his placards around town and says in the interests of conservation and recycling, he will repaint them as his campaign signs.

In 2017 Rewiti was a witness at the trial when then Whanganui MP Chester Borrows was found not guilty of careless driving stemming from an anti-Trans Pacific Partnership protest.

The court heard Rewiti had posted a photo of a sex toy with the words 'see you soon b****' in reference to then minister Paula Bennett.

Housing is a concern for Reweti and he courted controversy again in February this year on the subject of refugee settlement in Whanganui.


Following the Government's announcement that Whanganui will become one of 13 official refugee settlement locations in 2020, he was challenged over his anti-refugee comments on social media.

"I am not opposed to refugee settlement and I have nothing against people coming here as refugees," he said.

"I just think it is very important that our own people are housed first.

"I would like to see the council playing a bigger role in making sure local people have proper housing and I would like to be part of that."

Reweti, who stood unsuccessfully in 2016, was disappointed that there were no Māori representatives around the council table and he hoped that would change in October.

"The Whanganui District Council is committed to consulting with iwi and that's good but it will be better if there is iwi representation at the table."