Far North Mayor Moko’s youth advocacy earns global award nomination

Far North Kahika (Mayor) Moko Tepania has made a shortlist of 15 global leaders deemed to have made a positive impact on youth. Photo / Tania Whyte

Alongside senators and ministers from around the world, Far North District Mayor Moko Tepania has made a shortlist of 15 leaders deemed to have made a positive impact on youth.

The nomination holds potential to see Tepania become one of five recipients of the One Young World Politician of the Year Award, to be announced in July and awarded in October in Belfast.

Thirty-two-year-old Tepania, the youngest and first Māori mayor of the Far North, said he was humbled by the nomination but had initially not considered accepting it given the high number of young elected officials in Aotearoa.

“They are just as deserving of such an award, so I instead accepted the nomination on behalf of us all,” said Tepania (Ngāti Kahu ki Whangaroa, Te Rarawa).


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Tepania has been shortlisted alongside leaders aged 18 to 35 from Chile, Canada, Argentina, Northern Ireland, Zambia, Mexico, Spain, the United States, Malaysia, Belgium, Nepal, South Korea and two from Australia, as being exemplary of the benefits of including young people in politics.

He said he was “blown away” by the other shortlisted candidates and their “amazing mahi” (work).

“To be alongside so many inspiring leaders from around the world … wow!”

Tepania said he was even more humbled to have his “cheeky Far North name alongside them all for us here in Aotearoa”.


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The One Young World Politician of the Year Awards 2023 highlighted Tepania’s stance as a supporter of the Make It 16 campaign to lower the age of voting, as well as his position on the national committee for the Mayors Taskforce For Jobs that seeks to create better employment and education opportunities for youth at a local level.

Tepania said it was important to include young people in decision-making now because they will inherit and also govern the Aotearoa of tomorrow.

Of his work for youth, Tepania said he didn’t believe there was an end point or plateau for any single accomplishment, and would continue working for positive outcomes.

He sought “to continue to have positive interactions with rangatahi (youth) daily, to make mokopuna decisions — those that benefit mokopuna (grandchildren) and not just our current generation — to be good ancestors and leave the Far North in a better state.”

“That will be the testament of holding a role as an elected member.”

He said much work remained ahead to promote diversity and rangatahi (youth) inclusion in local government.

The nomination also highlighted Tepania’s achievements of being the first to submit a council report in the Māori language and the first elected member to have spoken only te reo Māori in a council meeting.

The awards are driven by London and Wales-based charity One Young World, which seeks to empower and develop young leaders.

■ The One Young World Politician of the Year Award was created to recognise the most promising young politicians between the ages of 18-35 from around the world. The winners are selected based on the impact they are having in their home countries and how they have used their position to benefit young people specifically. It is the first global award recognising the work of young politicians and was launched to counter the low level of youth engagement in politics.

The award will be presented to the five winners at the One Young World Summit Belfast 2023, which will take place from October 2-5.


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The award winners will be selected by an international panel of judges with unparalleled political expertise. The awardees will be assessed based on how they have used their public office to effect positive change in their communities and countries, particularly to benefit and represent young people.

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