Far North Kahika, Moko Tepania, has been recognised as one of the world’s most promising young leaders after winning a One Young World Politician of the Year Award.
The Mayor was one of five young global leaders to win the award, which recognises outstanding politicians aged 18-35 making a positive impact on young people in their communities.
Kahika Tepania said he was very humbled by the award from a global organisation, which promotes youth in politics, and he hopes it will encourage and inspire other young leaders in Northland. He will attend the ceremony in Belfast in October to accept the award on behalf of Aotearoa.
“This is an exciting opportunity to meet with other young leaders and to discuss the issues and challenges they face,” he said in a statement.
“I am keen to compare notes and to learn from the solutions they share. I absolutely acknowledge the huge amount of work to do here at home to serve our people better. I am accepting the award on behalf of the many leaders here at home who are just as deserving of recognition. Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi, engari he toa takitini. My success is not mine alone but is collectively ours!”
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, as well as the first woman to be elected president of Costa Rica, Laura Chinchilla.
The judging panel cited 32 year old Kahika Tepania’s history-making achievements 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 reo Māori in a council meeting to celebrate Māori Language Week.
His work with the Young Elected Members (YEM) national committee for Local Government New Zealand, and support of the Make It 16 campaign to lower the voting age also got a mention from the judging panel. The Mayors Taskforce For Jobs which aims to create better employment and education opportunities for youth at a local level was also noted.
A kaiako (teacher) at Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Kaikohe before entering politics, Kahika Tepania is currently finishing a master’s degree in education with a dissertation on how Maramataka, the Māori lunar calendar, can be used to benefit learning.
The other winners of the awards are from Canada, Australia, Belgium and Nepal.
- Arielle Kayabaga was the first Black woman elected to London City Council in Canada. In 2021, she was elected as an MP for London West, also the first Black woman to be elected to that position.
- Ayor Makur Chuot, who was born in an Ethiopian refugee camp after her family fled South Sudan, is now Western Australia’s first MP of African descent.
- Samuel Cogolati, of Belgium, is an MP who has campaigned tirelessly for human rights and volunteers as a law lecturer in Congo.
- Sobita Gautam, who was born in an un-electrified village and educated in poorly equipped government schools, is now the youngest directly elected member of the House of Representatives in Nepal.
Find out more about the One Young World Politician of the Year Award 2023 here.