15 Oct 2022

Far North officially elects its first Māori mayor

7:51 pm on 15 October 2022
Moko Tepania, Far North District councillor and teacher at Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Kaikohe.

Photo: Northern Advocate / supplied

A 31-year-old te reo teacher is the first Māori to be elected mayor of the Far North.

Moko Tepania, edged out former Deputy Mayor Ann Court on special votes in the final count declared last night, 7805 to 7362 votes.

The Far North District Council will also for the first time have a majority of Māori members.

Tepania said he had been patiently waiting, but couldn't say the same for those around him.

"I think half of the Far North were impatiently waiting, and so this is such a great result -

for myself personally, of course but for everyone, for all of our supporters who've been waiting out this entire week to see if we actually got over the line.

"And we did, so I'm humbled beyond belief."

Tepania said the strong Māori leadership puts the council in an amazing position to serve the community.

"One of the reasons why I ran was because I knew that we were going to have Māori ward councillors coming to the table and I wanted to see leadership at the top who can walk in both worlds, you know, te ao Māori, and to bring everyone together, so that we can progress our district forward."

In a Facebook post, Tepania also said he was grateful.

"Whakawhetai ki te Atua. Kua whakatutukihia! We did it!"

During his campaign, Tepania said he said he would offer inclusive and open leadership, genuine engagement with communities, greater council transparency and improved communication.

He also was instrumental in the formation of Māori wards in the north.

Court was initially in the lead on Saturday's progress results, but preliminary results released earlier in the week saw her switch places with Tepania.

He replaces veteran politician John Carter who retired after working in local and central government since 1967.

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