A Kiwi who volunteered on Hillary Clinton's campaign for the White House has been accepted for Harvard University but he needs $230,000 to get there.

Korey Te Hira, 26, was living in London when he decided to volunteer for the Clinton campaign last year, bagging a selfie with the candidate at her victory rally for the South Carolina primary a week after he arrived in the States.

He has been accepted into a two-year Master in Public Policy course starting in August at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, the alma mater of former Labour MPs Shane Jones and David Cunliffe.

But the course costs US$81,000 ($115,850) a year, "a huge amount," he admits.


He has applied for scholarships from Harvard, but they are "extremely competitive", so he has also started a Givealittle page, Help Korey Study at Harvard.

"Given the limitations of what I can raise, it's likely that it's not going to be enough," he said. "There will be an element of personal savings and a considerable student loan which I need to organise."

Te Hira's decision to study public policy is a change of direction after an initial career in business.

Raised in Laingholm, West Auckland, he won a First Foundation scholarship to do a commerce degree at Auckland University. He spent two years with Fonterra, and has just completed three short-term finance jobs for media companies in London.

"But I have always been interested in politics and public policy and economics, and I thought if I wanted to make a career change I needed to get some more education," he said.

"I wanted to get some more overseas experience. I've had two years in the UK. Two years in the US will give me more experience."

He is a member of the National Party, supports free trade and immigration, and backed Clinton's campaign against the protectionist, anti-immigrant policies of successful candidate Donald Trump.

Te Hira contacted Clinton's campaign by email, arranged to join it in South Carolina, and was put to work on his second day in America.


"On the day I turned up it was, 'Here's a T-shirt,' and before I knew it I was out with a person who is now a good friend knocking on doors and engaging with ordinary Americans," he said.

"People were surprisingly open to talk about it and a lot of them were just interested to know why someone from New Zealand who now lives in London would come to South Carolina to knock on their door.

"I just said I was interested in political issues and followed US politics quite closely, and I'm at a point in my life where I have the ability to go and become involved and not just watch, so I decided to do it and made it happen."

He reckons he helped persuade a few voters to back Clinton against Democratic challenger Bernie Sanders in the primaries.

Although he was disappointed that Trump won in the end, he also queued with Trump supporters for seven hours for a Trump rally so that he could understand why people were voting for him.

"It was the same with the Brexit," he said. "There were a lot of working-class people who, through globalisation, felt they have been left behind."

After Harvard, Te Hira wants to return to New Zealand to work in Maori economic development and diversifying the NZ economy.

"I'm part of Ngapuhi and Te Rarawa. I see an opportunity for them, and also for other iwi, to make the most of the assets that are being returned through the Treaty settlements," he said.

"It's about making sure the right aspects are put in place and that government support is there to make the most of those assets so it can transform people's lives, whether it be through education, health or disparities in the criminal justice system."