Youngest Candidate Steps Forward For Seat On Kāpiti Council

Paekakariki teenager Sophie Handford, who led the recent School Strike 4 Climate campaign, will stand for a seat on the Kāpiti Coast Council in the October elections.

If elected, she’ll be the youngest person to sit on the Council.

Sophie (18) says: “I’m putting myself forward because I want to advocate for healthier relationships between our seniors and youth, transition the council to carbon neutral, and develop a workplace programme for students leaving school.” 

Sophie will be running for a seat in the Paekakariki-Raumati ward.

She wants to foster walking and cycling as a regular mode of transport, encourage the development of community housing and support local businesses.

Co-ordinating the Climate Campaign

However, her most significant role to date was coordinating New Zealand’s School Strike 4 Climate, which saw tens of thousands of students strike and march on the government to demand action on climate change.

Kāpiti and Coast Independent asked her for a full list of her aims. Here they are:

Supporting the most vulnerable in our community
  • Supporting action to reduce isolation among elderly such as a mentoring system, a program where students visit. Public art project which fosters dynamic and collaborative learning.
  • Developing mentorship links between seniors and young people in the community.
  • Prioritising the development of Social Housing strategy in conjunction with the Kapiti Communities Housing Taskforce — showing aroha to our homeless youth in Kāpiti.
  • Advocating to central Government to support the needs of our communities, eg. ways to make walking and biking to school safer for our tamariki.
Caring for our environment
  • Taking steps to act on Councils carbon neutral 2025 resolution and ensure it is implemented in a sustainable way.
  • Creating and implementing a shared blueprint for how we want our region’s future to look.
  • Developing a greater reflection of kaitiakitanga, manaakitanga and kotahitanga in Council policy.
  • Environmental education to support our communities to minimize waste and consider our environment!

Uplifting our youth

  • Council developing a program to accept Gateway students. Encouraging and supporting local businesses to do the same.
  • Prioritisation and development of Emergency Housing and support for youth in the community
  • Advocating to the Ministry of Social Development/Ministry for Children about the needs of Kapiti’s youth
  • Working with community organisations to improve the opportunities and lives of youth. Advocating for Rangatahi at the Council table and a greater youth voice in Council decision making

Teachers backing Sophie

Former Raumati South School teacher Steve Aiken has welcomed Sophie’s announcement.

“Sophie Handford is one of the most inspired, energetic and empathetic people I have had the good fortune of knowing. Her presence would enrich any council,” says Steve.

Sophie is a prominent figure in the community. She served as Head Girl of Kāpiti College in 2018, volunteers for the Paekakariki Housing Trust and works on the Kapiti Future Leaders Programme.

And Kāpiti College Principle Tony Kane says Sophie would be an asset to the Council.

“Those making decisions for our community should reflect the diversity in it. Sophie brings a youth voice, but with a maturity that belies her years,” says Tony.

Meanwhile, Kāpiti College Board of Trustees Chair Cas Carter says Sophie had already made a major impact on Kapiti and is guaranteed to continue.

“Sophie has already proven herself to be a leader of her generation locally and nationally. She has a strong vision and is tenacious enough to see things through,” says Cas.

 

I agree with Jake. There’s a considerable number of superannuitant voters in the Paekakariki-Kapiti ward. Many of us are frustrated and disappointed by our generation’s lack of leadership and decades of failure to give responses to this existential threat the urgency they so obviously deserve. Young energy like Sophie’s is exactly what we need and she will definitely have my vote!

If I am eligible to vote within the Paekakariki-Raumati ward I will most certainly vote for Sophie. Brilliant!

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