A young Māori wahine is among a select trio chosen to show off this year’s Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting in a way that will better connect with young people - via social media.
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Ciccone Hakaraia-Turner is the Polynesian social media youth correspondent and joins fellow correspondents Gerdi Raimon, from Kiribati and representing Micronesia, and Fiji’s Pita Loloma, who represents Melanesia.
They are in the Cook Islands this week providing context for the priorities of young people and sharing stories, video reels, photos and experiences on social media sites including Facebook and Instagram.
The three correspondents were announced as the winners of the My Blue Pacific 2050 social media campaign competition, which called on young people from around the Pacific to share their visions for the region in 2050.
Hakaraia-Turner has roots in Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Maniapoto and Te Arawa.
Her entry talked about her dreams of reclaiming the waterways she grew up swimming in from her awa (river) beaches and kāinga (ancestral home).
The 20-year-old is a business student at the Auckland University of Technology.
“My vision for 2050 is to reclaim our waterways,” she says.
“I believe it’s important to make sure we’re doing our part to look after Papatūānuku, so our tamariki and mokopuna can also feel the beauty that we all have felt growing up - he taonga (a treasure).”
Spending time in and around the oceans and waterways enables Hekaraia-Turner to re-orient herself whenever she feels exhausted, overwhelmed or stressed out, she says.
Her ties to Tangaroa continue to be strong - particularly as a university student.
Speaking about her video entry, she said filming it was a new environment for her and she acknowledged it took her out of her comfort zone.
“But the kaupapa behind the video lit a flame in me that I didn’t realise existed.
“I’ve noticed that my younger cousins, nieces and nephews don’t have the luxury of swimming in their rivers and oceans because of visible pollution,” Hakaraia-Turner said.
”Even now we have to choose which beaches we go to based on whichever is the least.”
Secretary-General for the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Henry Puna, said: “The digital world is one our Pacific Youth already lead and this initiative resonates in its own way with the protect, promote and prosper values of this year’s Forum theme.”
Puna, who is also a former Cook Islands Prime Minister, said that made every competition entry a winning one.
Youth ambassadors from around the Pacific region also shared their visions for the future and promoted the competition.
Among those was newly crowned Miss Samoa Moemoana Safa’ato’a Schwenke, who is also known for her championing climate change issues affecting the Pacific region.
Hero Image: Social media youth correspondents at this year's Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting: Ciccone Hakaraia-Turner, Pita Loloma and Gerdi Raimon. Photo / Ciccone Hakaraia-Turner