“I said my prayers.” Like many New Zealanders on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
“Oh God, if you shine on me, I would like to win something out of Lotto.” And so it happened for Lou Te Keeti - $10.3 million on Lotto Powerball.
And when Lou Te Keeti was saying his prayers – “in my own way” – he would also say he wanted to help people. “Because you can't enhance yourself without enhancing other people.”
And last week Lou was busy enhancing. He has gifted $100,000 to Diabetes Help Tauranga.
“It was a very easy decision,” says Lou. “I had already made the commitment to our Lord Creator.”
People asked him how he could make such a decision so soon after winning. “I didn't. I have been thinking that way for many years.”
And now Diabetes Help has a new Ford Focus Fiesta, all painted up in the organisation's livery – Diabetes Help which provides relevant and professional diabetes information, education and support for anyone with diabetes, their family and whanau, Diabetes Help which is a cash-strapped charity.
“We have been clocking up kilometres in our own cars,” says Debbie Cunliffe, the group's nurse educator and manager. “We have been living hand to mouth,” says treasurer, John Taylor. “We didn't even know if we could pay Debbie after November.” Well they can now, the work continues and the benefactor gives the beneficiary a warm and reassuring pat. He is well-pleased to help.
And for Diabetes Help, there's now a recognition factor out on the road. “People are saying ‘wow' – now they know there's a diabetes support organisation in town,” says Debbie. “It's great for marketing.”
Lou likes Diabetes Help. He himself is a type 2 diabetic. “I am very keen on their work because diabetes and heart disease really impact the health of my whanau.
“I am not doing too bad. My GP tells me to exercise, exercise, exercise. I am mobile, chasing animals and moving horses. I have shed up to four kilogrammes in six months.” And there's a group of about 60 whanau from his Wairoa Marae who are now going to the gym, walking, discussing health issues and managing their health.
But the substantial windfall hasn't changed the man. “Still very much the same, I haven't even changed the wardrobe.” There's the trademark baseball cap, polo shirt with a badge declaring his allegiance to Gareth Morgan, the vest and track pants, and gumboots.
He has allowed himself some indulgences. He could have bought himself a Lamborghini, a Ferrari, at least an upmarket Merc or Ford Ranger. Instead he bought himself a Suzuki Swift. “Very nippy, gets me round town and is very economical.” As if the price of petrol is a consideration for him.
He bought a campervan. Could have spent $150K on a new one. “But that would have been ridiculous. We, the wife and I, bought a second-hand one. A modest second-hand one.” Now they're set up for a summer of modest day trips to Whakatane in one direction or Whangamata in the other.
And there are the renos. “I am busy coordinating contractors on the work on our house.” Nothing flash of course. “Just making it comfortable and warm.”
And the gracious septuagenarian also has his other good works, his other charities – Waipuna Hospice and the Heart Foundation. So yes, he isn't doing too bad, and yes, he is keeping busy. And now he has the where-with-all to do it. You can't begrudge him a cent of it. After all, his money is enhancing people, enhancing lives and enriching his own.