Regional | Far North

Moko Tepania makes history as first Māori mayor of Far North

Photo / File

Moko Tepania (Ngāti Kahu ki Whangaroa, Te Rarawa) has made history as the first Māori mayor of the Far North.

At 31 years old, he is also the youngest mayor ever elected in Northland.

"It's extremely overwhelming but in such a beautiful way," he told The Northern Advocate.

Tepania teaches at Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Kaikohe.

A one-term councillor, he told 1 News he was not even considering running again for council after succeeding in getting Māori wards - and a guaranteed voice for Māori - established in the district.

“But when I looked at all the work that we had done, or had started at council, and when I thought about what the next three years could be, that was a part of the reason why I wanted to stand.

“I also had so many calls from whānau and community members to ask me to run. So to be respectful I thought if I didn’t run for mayor I have to have really good reasons not to because all of these people trust in me and believe that I can do the role.”

His win over long-serving councillor Ann Court was confirmed late Friday evening. He received 7805 votes to Court's 7362, a margin of 443 votes.

Tepania will lead a council that for the first time in Far North history has a Māori majority.

"It's so beautiful, I'm so excited, I'm so humbled I don't even really have words to express it," Tepania told The Northern Advocate.

'Benefitting everyone'

Speaking with teaomā on Monday, Tepania says he will be a mayor for all.

"As a council, we will be prioritising things that will benefit everyone, our Māori and non-Māori communities alike.

Road issues in state highways and local roads, and partnerships with iwi and hapū are just some things he and his council will be prioritising.

"The needs that we have in the Far North are massive, it keeps me up at night. We as a council can't do that alone so we definitely have to have partnership and collaboration."