Pounamu Wharehinga from Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Horouta Wānanga ki Tūranga has been selected as a representative for the New Zealand Youth Parliament.
“The main issue among us youth is suicide and the majority are Māori males,” says Wharehinga.
Showing maturity beyond her 16 years, Wharehinga is focused on gaining the skills and knowledge needed to help her community.
“Homelessness, environmental pollution, like the ocean- it's filled with rubbish and pollution, and it’s filthy. I want to fix those issues,” she says.
Wharehinga has been chosen by Green Party Co-leader Marama Davidson as her Youth MP. Wharehinga says she will follow the example of wāhine currently leading in politics.
“The prime minister is a woman, so she can see the big picture, she has a broad perspective. Marama Davidson is a Māori woman so there's a connection there and I like seeing women standing up as leaders for the nation”, says Wharehinga.
She's also a graduate of the Pao Pao Pao Māori music academy and uses her talents within the community.
“I write music and do things in the community like feeding those in poverty and performing for them. The main thing for me is family,” she says.
For Wharehinga, the first objective is to bring back her experience from Youth Parliament to the East Coast.