Topics: Politics, Youth

Wellington student president launches city council campaign

By Talisa Kupenga
  • Wellington

Twenty-two-year-old Tamatha Paul (Ngāti Awa, Waikato Tainui) is campaigning to take Wellington City Council’s Lambton ward.  She says Māori and young people need a voice, which is why she's stepping up.

"This is a campaign for the people.  Yes, I'm putting my name forward but really I stand for the thousands of young people, students, rangatahi out there that want their voice heard," she says.

The youngest independent on the campaign trail so far, Paul's focus areas include transport, health, the environment and making Wellington the country's first living wage city.

"Working with those issues and working with the different neighbourhoods in and around the three university campuses, I can see that there is a massive disconnect there.  Not only are there no young voices in council at the moment- in fact every councillor is over the age of 40- all of them own their houses, I doubt any of them catch public transport.  I think there's a massive gap there in terms of representation."

Last year, Paul became the first female Māori student president of Victoria University in the institution's 122-year history.  She represents 22,000 young people. 

Only one of fifteen Wellington council representatives are Māori, she wants to change that.

"There's a movement globally of young people wanting to engage at that decision-making level because we have legitimate opinions, hopes, and concerns that just aren't being addressed until someone from our own community gets up there and does it."

Local government nominations open nationwide July 12 and voting closes October 12.