Date posted: 20/09/2022

Meet the 2021 Gisborne Region Financial Assistance Fund winners

The 2021 recipients of the Gisborne Region Financial Assistant Fund discuss their professional journeys and how they hope to use their accounting skills to help give back to their communities.

Each year, Chartered Accountants ANZ, with the support of Eastland Group, Coates Associates Ltd and Graham & Dobson Ltd, offers the Gisborne Region Financial Assistance Fund.

The scholarship is designed to provide financial assistance to students to develop their skills and provide support to those based in the Gisborne/East Coast region in New Zealand, who are interested in pursuing a career in accounting.

We are proud to offer two scholarships this year and to share the unique stories of each of the 2021 winners who share a common goal of providing financial literacy resources to their communities and creating a brighter future for the next generation.

Let’s meet last year’s recipients.

Erutini Paringatai-Walker

Erutini Paringatai-Walker is an Accounting Trainee at BDO Gisborne and is in his final year of an accounting degree, but he didn’t always want to be an accountant.

“Accounting is not an avenue someone would usually follow here on the coast. The main employment pathways are teaching, forestry, farming and Horticulture, and road working, all mostly physical jobs,” Erutini says.

“I wanted to be a carpenter that's where my father's trade was. And I just wanted to follow in his footsteps. So, my natural passion was for building, helping people. But then I missed out on that pathway. So, I figured maybe I’d try the next best thing which was math and accounting.”

“If I can help the next generation come through accounting, then that's going to help in the long run.”

Erutini said there were a lot of financial barriers in the Māori community that prevented people from pursuing higher education. Throughout his studies Erutini discovered accounting could be a tool to break down intergenerational barriers within the Māori community.

“If I can help the next generation come through accounting, then that's going to help overall.” Erutini says.

“I have helped my people back at home, through accounting. Now I am helping a couple of farmers that own land around a single river. We are running workshops sort of chucking ideas at each other. What's working, what is not, and we are helping facilitate that sort of opportunity for them.”

Erutini said the scholarship moved him a step closer to becoming a fully qualified accountant so he could continue to help people in the community. He recently became a provisional Accounting Technician setting him further down the right pathway.

Sarah Dixon

Sarah Dixon came to accounting late in life after quitting school when she was just 14 years old.

“I had my first child when I was 17. I have three sons and a daughter. My three boys were born pretty much one after the other. They are young men now and I have a grandson. My daughter is six years old,” Sarah says.

While working as a part-time sales assistant, Sarah fell in love with sales and decided she wanted to one day open her own business.

“Once the boys had gotten a bit older, I decided that I wanted to take sales a bit further. And I actually went into EIT where I am currently and had a talk about doing a business course and decided to do my bachelor’s in business,” Sarah says.

Sarah got interested in accounting after one of her tutors highlighted the importance of accounting skills to operating a business and she now plans to become a Chartered Accountant.

“I've been going through accounting and I've found that I really enjoy it. In regard to sales, for me it’s very important to a business. To me it's like another language of the business, it can be challenging, but I enjoy it,” Sarah says.

She said the fund enabled her to buy a new laptop and eased the financial burden of continuing her studies.

“Nobody in my family has gotten any diploma or gone for any bachelor’s degree and there are certainly not any accountants in our family, receiving the fund was a big achievement. They're just really blown away and they really want to celebrate me and support me,” Sarah says.

“This scholarship has opened avenues for me already. I had an internship with Eastland Group, and I was in their finance team there. It was a great opportunity for me.”

Both the 2021 Gisborne Region Financial Assistance Fund recipients hope to use their skills to inform other members of the Gisborne community on the importance of accounting.

To be eligible for the Gisborne Region Financial Assistance Fund, students must be studying at a tertiary level towards an Accounting or Finance degree or in their final year of high school and committed to pursuing tertiary studies in accounting and living in the Gisborne/ East Coast region of New Zealand.

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