Palmerston North Youth MP Hemi Pinfold-Whanga with his mentor Tangi Utikere. Photo / Supplied
Hemi Pinfold-Whanga encourages Palmerston North rangatahi to share his ideas.
This is one of his motivations as a young city deputy this year.
“It will be a great opportunity to represent rangatahi in Palmerston North and I can’t wait to experience the adventures that this role [will bring] and the kind of experience I can get from doing that. “
Hemi has lived in Rongotea his entire life and this year will be in grade 13 at Palmerston North Boys’ High School.
The 17-year-old will study biology, chemistry, economics, accounting and Maori te reo.
As a young MP, he wants to bring rangatahi’s ideas and views together and bring them to the table as a youth advocate. Hemi says the role is a great opportunity as he is passionate about mātauranga Māori (Maori knowledge).
He wants to use mātauranga Māori for the benefit of Maoris and non-Maoris. For example, kaitiakitanga (guardianship) is linked to climate change and works to protect the environment. Kotahitanga (uniqueness, unity) works together to achieve common goals with everyone bringing ideas.
Hemi is Tuhoe on his father’s side and Ngāti Maniapoto on his mother’s side. He has a strong relationship with Rangitāne.
Hemi plans to study health sciences and business at the University of Auckland next year. He wants to work with government and iwi politics to develop better Maori health outcomes, aware of the saying that it’s not really a job if you like to do it.
He plays rugby and tennis and does kapahaka.
He has a part-time job at Rebel Sport which he enjoys. Hemi also enjoys public speaking and has participated in Ngā Manu Kōrero speaking competitions since grade 9. Last year he finished second in the senior English category of Manawatū Horowhenua Ngā Manu Kōrero. He went on to compete in and win the Stockley Cup, a Wellington-area speech competition.
Hemi is aware of the importance for rangatahi to see other young Maori succeed, as it gives them inspiration to pursue higher education or an apprenticeship.
“Seeing other people succeed, then you have the motivation and the inclination to think that I can do it too.”
Next month, he will participate in the Boys’ High’s Crest to Crest challenge at Mount Ruapehu at school. Students will run, climb, canoe, mountain bike and road bike. He trains for the challenge and expects it to be more taxing mentally than physically.
“I don’t want to do Crest to Crest but I mean I did.”
Palmerston North MP Tangi Utikere said that in choosing the city’s youth MP he was looking for someone who was passionate and connected to the local community. In 1997, Utikere was Jill White’s young MP.