The local elections have seen Kāpiti elect one of New Zealand's youngest councillors to the table, Sophie Handford.

At just 18 years of age, Sophie has been elected as the Paekākāriki-Raumati ward councillor.

Known around New Zealand for her work as the School Strike for Climate NZ co-ordinator, and more locally as Kāpiti College's head girl last year, Sophie beat Guy Burns and Bede Laracy for the role.

"I was initially shocked and obviously extremely grateful.

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"I didn't have an inkling whatsoever of the way it was going to go.

Newly elected Paekākāriki-Raumati ward councillor Sophie Handford and supporters at the Paekākāriki Barn Dance after finding out she had won the role. Photo / Louve Pharand-Doucet
Newly elected Paekākāriki-Raumati ward councillor Sophie Handford and supporters at the Paekākāriki Barn Dance after finding out she had won the role. Photo / Louve Pharand-Doucet

"With three candidates, I thought all of us had run really good campaigns, I was quite shocked but all the hard work paid off."

Expecting a result sometime between 3-5pm, Sophie and her supporters got together from 3pm on Saturday evening.

"We were just hanging out around my phone waiting or any texts or calls to come through.

"I heard nothing for hours and was calling the council to try and get some answers about when the results would be out but heard nothing, so we decided to go for a long walk along the beach."

By the time the group came back, there were still no results so they decided to go the Paekākāriki Barn Dance.

It was there Sophie found out she had won the role.

"Running a campaign is a very new face for me, I've run the climate change strikes but that's different, I already learnt so much.

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"It was all about running the best campaign that we could and then passing it back to the community to decide.

"It's really exciting to see how many people are backing the change by voting for me.

"This wouldn't have been possible without my supporters, I'm so thankful and grateful for their support.

"The first thing I said when I won was that it's not just me that's been elected, we did it.

"I've been elected but the team did it, I'm just representing us."

Bringing youth and enthusiasm, Sophie thinks she will bring a different perspective to the council.

"I'll be the only person sitting around that table who knows what it's like to be a teenager and a young person in this day and age.

"I think I'll bring a forward-thinking approach to a lot of decisions, and a vision of what kind of Kāpiti we can create for the generations to come.

"We need to be represented diversely, and I'm excited that we are one step towards that now."