At 20, Larissa Hika is the youngest person standing for election to Te Puke Community Board.

She is one of nine candidates in the running for the four available seats.

Larissa left Te Puke High School in 2018, went to university last year, and is having a break from studying this year.

Her name may be familiar to some, as she was one of the entrants in the recent Kiwifruit Ambassador contest.

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"It really got me thinking about the things I would do if I was the ambassador for Te Puke," she says. "When I didn't win it, I got the idea of going for the community board — I thought, maybe there's a chance to do something else, something bigger and I was, like, why not give it a try?"

She says she had always felt there was scope for something more to happen in Te Puke for young people.

"I feel like it's one issue in this town that there should be more for them and focusing on them — and there should be more of a voice for younger people in the town.

She says her campaign will be strongly social media-based, saying she sees that as a good way of targeting young people.

"Facebook and Instagram — those two would be the best way to get it out.

"Being a local and still young, I already have quite a big social media status — quite a lot of people follow me on Instagram and I'm already friends with quite a lot of people on Facebook, so I feel like I am safe in that area.

She hopes standing in the election can also give younger people more of an interest in and understanding of local body politics.

"I feel like I can make them realise that we actually have a say in what happens.''

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She says she hopes to inspire young and first time voters to take part in the election.

''It would be good to make them more aware. Some people might say 'we don't want to vote', but I think they need more awareness in terms of having a say and a choice in who can make decisions for them.''

Over time Larissa has developed more confidence.

"I've definitely grown more as a person in terms of confidence as I've got older. I used to be quite shy and conservative in myself but I feel I'm getting more confident, especially
with going for the board — it's a challenge.

Larissa is being mentored by Stephen and Tracey Fawcett from the Vector Charitable Trust who she first me when they volunteered for the high school's CACTUS programme.

Larissa says she has nothing to lose by standing as a community board candidate.

"Being so young, I am putting myself out there completely for something that is so big and whatever happens, that's still a reward in itself because it's pretty bold I would say.

And even if I'm not successful, I will get something out of it.''

Also standing for the Te Puke Community Board are: Richard Crawford, Gina Davies, Joan Dugmore, Kassie Ellis, Stephen Fawcett, Richard McNair, Tupaea Rolleston and Dale Snell.