Tauranga's Anaru Palmer has been selected to be mentored by a mayor for a year in hopes of working towards his dream of being an international relations and indigenous rights ambassador.
Palmer, 20, was selected as a participant in the 2021 Tuia Mayoral Mentoring Programme to work alongside Western Bay of Plenty mayor Garry Webber.
The Tuia programme handpicks outstanding rangatahi Māori who have the potential to contribute to their community.
The year-long programme aims to develop leadership in young Māori and involves each student in one-on-one mentoring with their local mayor.
The programme also involves each student undertaking community contribution of their choosing and attending five wānanga in different parts of the country to build networks and mix with a diverse range of people.
Palmer, of Ngāi Te Rangi and Ngāti Ranginui iwi, hopes this will help him on his journey to be an ambassador for international relations and indigenous rights on a global scale.
The former Tauranga Boys' College head prefect is now at The University of Waikato where he is studying a Bachelor of Social Sciences in Political Science and Māori and Indigenous Studies.
Palmer gained a Diploma in Te Tohu Paetahi in 2019, a total immersion Māori language programme, and has returned to his old high school for the last two years as a kaiāwhina in the bi-lingual unit.
Palmer sees his time working with Webber as a chance to gain insight into the politics of local government and to gain an understanding of how he can embrace the non-Māori aspects of life.
"I feel blessed and grateful to have the mayor as a mentor and to have the opportunity of Te Tuia to further enable me to achieve my ambitions and develop my character.
"I want to be able to walk with confidence between the two worlds and to find a balance in both. I'm just going to dive in and embrace this great opportunity with an open mind and learn as much as I can from the wisdom of the Mayor."
Western Bay Mayor Garry Webber said Palmer was selected for the programme because of his desire to be a part of the programme, his community involvement and the strength of his academic and scholarship achievements at college and university.
"In the selection of Tuia participants it is important we find people such as Anaru who are already showing leadership at a young age in school and in further education."
Palmers picked up a number of accolades in his final year of high school; top of level three Te Reo Māori, the Ngāti Pūkenga Rangatiratanga Award for leadership, the Norman Morris Prize for Head Prefect, the Monte Ohia Trophy for top Māori student and the Silver Spoon service award.
He gained The University of Waikato Te Ara Whānui and Tauranga Campus First-in-Family Scholarships, worth a total of $11,000.
Last year Anaru received a $3000 scholarship from TECT as part of the Tauranga Campus Returning Students scholarship for university.
Webber said Palmer would gain a better understanding of leadership and the importance of being able to walk in both worlds – Māori and Pākehā.
"From my perspective, I have a great deal to learn from Palmer – particularly in tikanga Māori. Together we will learn from each other."