Far North District Council Mayor, Moko Tepania, last week accepted a One Young World Politician of the Year Award at a ceremony in Belfast.
The award recognises outstanding politicians aged 18-35 who are making a positive impact on young people in their communities. Four other global leaders from Canada, Australia, Belgium, and Nepal were also winners of the award.
Mayor Tepania posted a video of his acceptance speech on his Facebook page where he said he was proud to be the Far North Mayor and a champion for youth inclusion. He cited inspirational quotes from Māori leaders Dame Whina Cooper and Sir Hemi (James) Henare. In earlier posts he said he was ‘stoked’ to be at the event, sharing photos of the opening ceremony a few days before.
Kōwhai Deputy Mayor, Kelly Stratford also highlighted the Mayor’s inclusive approach.
“Kahika Tepania has often said he is accepting this award on behalf of all of us, all of the Far North District, all of Aotearoa and as mayor, Moko keeps education and helping youth into jobs close to his heart,” she said.
“He keeps young people engaged by inviting them into our spaces so they’ll be interested in local government when they’re older. He’s always telling kids, ‘You can be the next mayor’.”
One Young World is a global community for young leaders. The expert judging panel that selected the shortlist of five winners includes human rights and freedom advocates.
The panel cited several moments when the 33-year-old Kahika Tepania has made history – including being the youngest and first Māori to be elected as mayor of the Far North in 2022, being the youngest councillor elected to council in 2019, as well as being the first councillor to submit a council report in te reo Māori and to have spoken only te reo Māori in a council meeting to celebrate Māori Language Week.
He is also actively involved in the Mayors Taskforce for Jobs which aims to get young people involved with employment, training, and education.
Find out more about the One Young World Politician of the Year Award 2023 here.