Topics: Education, Politics

Young Māori leader hand-picked for Obama summit

Gina Rangi of Ngāti Tūwharetoa gives a rare insight into the Obama Foundation Summit as it wraps up tonight.

The newly appointed General Manager Māori for the Rotorua Lakes Council spoke to Kawekōrero Reporters from the summit in Chicago, USA.

Rangi says she was nominated for the summit and then received an invitation via email from the Obama Foundation.

“I got this invitation on email. And I thought, you know – spam – delete,” she said.

 “And then I got a follow up letter – spam – delete. And they actually had to ring and say ‘Can you RSVP? Cause it closes on Monday’. Cause you know I’m sitting in Rotorua. I did not think I was going to get invited by the Obama Foundation to something like this.”

Rangi says young leaders from around the world were invited to attend the two day conference.

“We are all community workers in our communities. Passionate about developing our own – for me hapu, marae, whanau, iwi. So that’s how they chose us.” 

The summit included inspirational talks from former President Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, and Prince Harry who Rangi got to sit next to at dinner.

“They had assigned seating and I sat down and thought ‘Oh who’s this coming into our dinner late?’ It was Prince Harry. So that was a bit hard case.”

Among the many speakers, Rangi says President Obama’s words resonated with her.

“The message that President Obama gave us was that change is slow. But over time, in the scale of human development, change is really fast. You know, what’s 20 years to humanity?”

“So don’t lose hope. Just carry on doing what you’re doing in your local community.”