Oct. 15, 2022, 1:40 p.m.
It's official! Moko Tepania (Ngāti Kahu ki Whangaroa, Te Rarawa) is Te Taitokerau's first Māori Mayor and the youngest mayor ever elected in Northland.
When Tautīnei asked Tepania how he was celebrating, he responded;
"Lucky enough to have whānau and friends with me when I had the call last night and straight into mahi this morning to get things started! Excited beyond words at what we've achieved. Tears of joy from my whānau! Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi engari he toa takitini" detailed Tepania.
The results were made public late Friday night, 14th October 2022, after a nail-biting week where Tepania went head-to-head with long-serving Deputy Mayor, Ann Court.
Eight candidates contested the mayoralty, with the election held for the first time using the single transferable vote (STV) system. When the first results were released last Saturday, Court had 5995 votes to Tepania's 5750 putting her in front. Within one day of last-minute and special votes being counted, Tepania had taken the lead.
"I was really calm all week and waited patiently for the results. I can't say the same for my whānau and half of the Far North who were messaging or calling hourly!"
In the end, Tepania, who teaches at Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Kaikohe and is responsible for forcing the Extraordinary Meeting that introduced Māori Wards, won the top seat by a margin of 443 votes. Tepania had 7805 votes to Court's 7362.
He will now lead a team of ten council members through a term of progression and history-making firsts.Tepania's 2022 council team members are Hilda Halkyard-Harawira, Tāmati Rākena, Penetaui Kleskovic and Babe Kapa (Ngā Tai o Tokerau Māori Ward), Ann Court, Kelly Stratford and Steve McNally (Bay of Islands-Whangaroa Ward), Felicity Foy and Mate Radich (Te Hiku Ward), and John Vujcich (Kaikohe-Hokianga Ward).
Tepania graduated from Waikato University with a Bachelor of Teaching (Secondary) and a Bachelor of Arts in Te Reo Māori and Anthropology. He then returned north where he is now also a teacher at Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Kaikohe.
Tepania was the Young Elected Member (YEM) representative for Te Rōpū Whakahaere o Te Maruata. He was also excited to be one of the Co-Chairs of the YEM Committee. Tepania was a first-term councillor for the Kaikohe-Hokianga ward of the FNDC when elected as Mayor.
During his previous term, Tepania represented the Far North for the Mayors’ Taskforce for Jobs alongside Cr Rachel Smith from the Far North. Tepania was on the Kaikohe-Hokianga Community Board and the Far North Creative Communities Scheme and loves seeing funding go directly to worthy kaupapa in the community.
Tepania spoke to Te Hiku Radio about his involvement in creating room for improvement when it comes to the use of tikanga in the FNDC. Tepania's advocacy to set a policy for te reo Māori and tikanga has been a work in progress and worked hard to include the use of tikanga and te reo Māori into the councils employee induction process and overall operating structure. The new mayor says there is already good work being done in this space and has been a key part to this process.
The Far North District has now had six mayors. Tepania's predecessors are the late Millie Srhoj (1989-92), Sue James (1992-98), Yvonne Sharp (1998-2007), Wayne Brown (2007-13, now Mayor of Auckland) and John Carter (2013-22).
John Carter served for three terms as mayor but holds the title of Aotearoa's longest serving government career. The 72 year old told RNZ that;
"I have loved being mayor, but it's time for someone else to take the helm."
When Tautīnei spoke to Tepania about his aspirations and why he chose to run for mayor, he responded;
"The huge support and encouragement from whānau and from the community for me made me put my hat in the ring. The past three years in council have been a huge learning curve and I’ve seen the positive impact that mahi in council can have for us. I know that the Far North is going to need a strong and dedicated mayor to work with fellow councillors and our communities to be someone our district can be proud of to lead us forward."
Tepania had also been elected into a Ngā Tai o Tokerau seat, which is another history-making feat for the 31 year old who was the first Mayor in Aotearoa to ever be elected from such a seat.
"It is time to step up and unite our communities, there has been conflict for far too long. It's time to allocate funding toward worthy kaupapa that best serves our communities. I’ve seen how council plays a huge role in the wellbeing of our communities so that everyone has the opportunity to succeed in life" said Tepania."
Tepania actioned a solid marketing strategy and was the most visible mayoral candidate across the region. The consistent bold colour choice of black and orange on t-shirts, flyers and billboards repeatedly appeared in many neighborhoods. He had the tautoko of whānau and other candidates.
"Awesome whānau did the bulk of it to free me up to campaign on the streets til the last minute. Other candidates also helped out which was primo!"
Humbled by the immense support from around the country, Tepania is excited to build a progressive future for our region and is already at work today.
"I'm so humbled and excited for the positive change we are going to bring to the Far North over the next 3 years!" said Tepania.
Mayor: Moko Tepania
Ngā Tai o Tokerau Māori Ward: Hilda Halkyard-Harawira, Tamati Rakena, Penetaui Kleskovic, Babe Kapa.
Bay of Islands-Whangaroa General Ward:
Ann Court, Kelly Stratford, Steve McNally.
Kaikohe-Hokianga General Ward:
Te Hiku General Ward:
Felicity Foy, Mate Radich.
Bay of Islands-Whangaroa Community Board:
Kawakawa-Moerewa Subdivision: Roddy Pihema.
Kerikeri Subdivision: Lane Ayr, Amy Slack.
Paihia Subdivision: Belinda Ward.
Russell-Opua Subdivision: Jane Hindle (unopposed).
Waipapa Subdivision: Tyler Bamber (unopposed).
Whangaroa Subdivision: Bruce Mills (unopposed).
Kaikohe-Hokianga Community Board:
Kaikohe Subdivision: Chicky Rudkin, Mike Edmonds, Trinity Edwards.
North Hokianga Subdivision: Harmonie Gundry
South Hokianga Subdivision: Jessie McVeagh, Tanya Filia.
Te Hiku Community Board:
Doubtless Bay Subdivision: Sheryl Bainbridge.
Kaitaia Subdivision: Adele Gardner, Rachel Baucke, John Stewart.
North Cape Subdivision: Darren Axe.
Whatuwhiwhi Subdivision: William Subritzky