Date posted: 12/07/2016

Top Māori accounting scholarship winners announced

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Two Māori students from NorthTec in Whangarei and Waikato University in Hamilton received prestigious accounting scholarships on 9 July.

Zoe Edmonds, (NorthTec) and Kowhai Nepia (Waikato University) have been named the recipients of the Ngā Kaitatau Māori o Aotearoa Suzanne Spencer Memorial Scholarship and the Ngā Raumanako Māori Scholarship, respectively.

The scholarships were presented by Kirsten Patterson, Chartered Accountants Australia New Zealand (CA ANZ) New Zealand Country Head at the NKMoA Hui a Tau held in Waitangi on 8 and 9 July.

The scholarships, awarded by CA ANZ and Ngā KaitātauMāori o Aotearoa (National Māori Accountants Network - NKMoA) provide two scholarships to two students of Māori descent with top grades and a strong focus on the community. The scholarships are worth $5000 and $6000.

The Ngā Raumanako scholarship also gives the winner the opportunity for a summer internship with one of NKMoA's Accounting Collaboration Partners (ACP) of PriceWaterhouseCoopers, EY Tahi, BDO, Deloitte, and KPMG.

"The scholarships are part of a strategy by both accounting organisations to increase the number of Māori choosing accountancy as a career," says CA ANZ New Zealand Country Head Kirsten Patterson. "Māori are significantly under represented in the profession and a memorandum of understanding last year between CA ANZ and NKMoA last year sets out steps to address the issue."

NKMoA Chairperson Wayne Panapa said NKMoA is committed to working with CA ANZ to foster the growth of Chartered Māori accountants. "TheMāori economy is growing quickly so our aim as the National Māori Accountant Network is to promote accounting as a profession to young Māori with scholarships and mentoring others who will go on to assist with small whānau businesses, tribal incorporations or mainstream organisations."

Edmonds qualified as a chef after leaving school and spent four years working at award-winning Kerikeri restaurant/cafe Food at Wharepuke. She says, "When I thought about accounting, I thought about bookkeeping - doing someone's accounts. But it's so much more than that. With an accounting qualification I can do anything from running my own business, to auditing; from management, to consulting. Or I could specialise in an area, like taxation. I can work in any organisation I want, and if I want to travel later on, there are all these opportunities."

Meanwhile, Nepia spent two years volunteering in Japan through his church after leaving school and imagined himself working for an international company and later setting up his own business. "Accounting is something that will really help me develop the skills for an understanding of business," Nepia says. "And as well as the financial aspect, accountants are also trained to give advice, and act in a consultancy role. So I can imagine working as a consultant to the owners of a business and eventually stepping into that role myself."

Part of Edmonds' role as a CA ANZ Student Brand Champion has been trying to convince high school students to move to tertiary education, and give business and accounting a try. "When I'm talking to students, I start by asking them what they think about accounting - and they talk about the boring old guy behind a counter crunching numbers. So I try to broaden their perspectives, presenting the opportunities.

"Like I show them a YouTube clip of Saimon Lomaloma, a Chartered Accountant who runs Jetboards NZ, a Queenstown-based extreme watersports business. And I'm saying 'If you put the effort into three years of study, the world's your oyster.' And they come out excited."

Nepia says accounting isn't an easy subject, but it's certainly something other Māori students should consider. "It seems like a lot of young Māori and Pacific Islanders think that accounting is really difficult and they don't feel like they have the skills to pursue it as a subject. But I believe that it's totally attainable if they willing to work hard and find people that can help."