Taipa Area School's head boy, Ezekiel Raui, is one of four young Maori leaders who will fly to Washington DC on Monday to take part in the first White House United National Indian Tribal Youth (UNITY) conference.

He, Tayla-Rose Campbell (Hato Petera), Conor O'Sullivan (studying medicine in Auckland) and Moerangi Vercoe (Rotorua) will join about 800 young native Americans in addressing the problems they see in their communities, then relaying that information directly to President Barack Obama.

They will be chaperoned by Cale Silich, from the MOKO team in Kaitaia.

The Tribal Youth Gathering (TYG) is a component of the Generation Indigenous initiative (Gen-I) established by President Obama last year to focus on improving the lives of young native Americans by removing the barriers that stand between them and opportunities to succeed.


At the age of 17, Ezekiel has already devoted a great deal of time to working with non-profit organisations and local businesses to develop and implement youth-led initiatives, and he believes this opportunity will equip him with knowledge he can put to use for the betterment of the Far North, and especially its young people.

"This is an experience that I don't want to miss, as I intend to be, if not the first, a Maori Prime Minister of New Zealand and I believe that the knowledge that can be gained from this experience will assist me in becoming a better ambassador for my people and my country," he said.

The opportunity for the Far North to be represented at the conference was seized by Kaitaia GP and MOKO Foundation chairman Dr Lance O'Sullivan when he attended this year's Tribal Self-Governance Consultation Conference in Reno, Nevada, as part of a Callaghan Innovation health IT delegation.

There, he met Kevin Washburn, Secretary of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, who was "enthusiastically supportive" of hosting a Maori delegation.