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From Aspiring Mayor to Council Asset.

One of the youngest people to step forward for the mayoralty in Hastings is now working for the same organisation he wanted to lead.

Last year’s Mayoral hopeful, Waitawhara Tupaea is one of 25 young people in the Rangatahi ma Kia eke project – a partnership between the Ministry of Social Development, the Hastings District Council, Hawke’s Bay District Health Board, Eastern Institute of Technology and Te Puni Kokiri under the Matariki Regional Economic Development Strategy.

The project offers an opportunity for young people aged 16-24 years who are having difficulty finding work to be employed in valuable project work. The project aims to develop work/ life skills and on the job training while contributing to the community. Some employment placements include the Leg Up Trust, Heretaunga Women’s Centre, Hastings SPCA and the Hastings District Council.

It’s the 19-year-old’s first job after finishing at Karamu High School.

His internship role will showcase the width and breadth of the council and time will be spent in each department including; the Mayor’s office, the CEO’s office, Economic Growth and Organisational Improvement, Community Facilities & Programmes, Asset Management, Planning and Regulatory, Health and Safety, HR, Finance and Emergency Management.

You may recognise Mr Tupaea’s bright smile from last year’s Hastings mayoral campaign, when he put himself forward as a candidate to give young people a voice.

Waitawhara says he always wanted to get into politics, ever since primary school.

While initially disappointed about the election result, he now hopes by learning and finding his way through Hastings District Council as an intern, he will be able to serve the community the best he can.

Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst says she met Waitawhara through the Mayoral by-election last year, and they had a couple of meetings at that time to discuss issues facing our district.

“I was impressed with his passion and determination to make a difference”.

Mayor Hazlehurst says he is an intelligent, visionary young man with a great future, and his internship will allow him to develop skills while assessing the area within the organisation he most enjoys. He will also join me on a number of projects.”

She says this is a unique opportunity for a young person to learn the scope of what we offer and to nurture a passion for local government.

At the end of his internship Waitawhara will be able to feedback his vision of “what will council look like in 2030” – this will be presented back to Chief Executive Ross McLeod.

As for his own aspirations, Waitawhara says he hopes to go to Massey University in Palmerston North to study sociology and political science, and will always continue to work for his community.


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