BDO Sir Henare Ngata Scholarship

Māori Scholarship for accounting students



“Kotahi te kākano, he nui ngā hua o te rākau”
“A tree comes from one seed but bears many fruit” 

Sir Henare Ngata is noted as being the first Māori chartered accountant. He paved the way for all Māori accountants that would follow, a trailblazer who epitomised hard work and dedication to the wellbeing of Māori, using accounting as a tool for advocacy. After returning from serving in the 28th Māori Battalion during World War II, he moved away from home to gain his qualification. Upon completion he returned home and made the bold move setting up his own practice in Gisborne. In later years this was sold, and over time, eventually became the BDO Gisborne practice.   

Sir Henare Ngata worked tirelessly serving the needs of Māori, following in his father's footsteps. His father, Sir Apirana Ngata, is widely known as being the first Māori to obtain a university degree, as well as for his contribution to politics and his work in protecting Māori culture, language and Māori wellbeing. 

In honour of Sir Henare Ngata, we're providing national scholarships to three talented Māori students in their pursuit to become accountants, while in their final or penultimate year of study.

The scholarship will consist of:

  • Financial assistance for study related costs $7,500
  • Internship at a BDO firm
  • Registration for Ngā Kaitatau Māori o Aotearoa hui and related costs up to $1,500 
  • Mentorship with BDO for final year of study (March to November) 

Māori are significantly under-represented in the accounting profession, making up around 2% of accountants in Aotearoa – despite representing 16.5% of our national population (2018 census). Scholarships and internships will further accounting careers for successful applicants and hopefully increase the number of Māori who choose a career in accounting, empowering them to become future leaders and shaping the direction of the Māori business sector. 

“Te manu e kai ana I te miro, nōna te ngahere; te manu e kai nana I te mātauranga nōna te ao”
“The bird that feeds on the miro berry, theirs is the forest; the bird that feeds on knowledge, theirs is the world” 

Find out more about the BDO New Zealand graduate programme for 2024 here


Who is eligible for a scholarship?

We are looking for people who are passionate about following a career in accounting and aspire to succeed.

To be successful, you will need to meet the following eligibility criteria: 

  • Provide verification of whakapapa 
  • Reside in New Zealand while completing study and internship 
  • Will be completing your final or penultimate year of tertiary study as an accountant at a recognised New Zealand institute in 2024.

Other criteria that is not essential, but will help you stand out:

  • Demonstrated leadership in any area of your life, such as education, community or extra curricula activities
  • Demonstrated involvement in your community

Please detail your involvement in any of the above in your cover note when you apply.

How to apply?

We want to make the process as simple and enjoyable as possible so here are some hints and tips to help you on your journey.

Applications for our 2024 scholarships are now closed contact us for more information or when applications will next be open.


It is important for us to get to know more than just your qualifications and grades! We want to know what else is important to you outside of your studies, what experiences you have and what motivates you.

In order for us to get a full picture of you, our online application will require you to provide us with the following information:

Application form

  • There are a few basic questions to answer on the application form, as well as some pre-employment checks.

Your resume

  • Your resume should have some essential information on it, but it is also an opportunity to tell us more about yourself.
    The essential stuff:
    • Your full name and all your contact details, so we can easily get in touch with you
    • Your education to date, including where you have studied, the dates and your majors and any other projects or theses you’ve done
    • Work experience to date
  • The information that will give us a broader picture of you:
    • Work and volunteer experience, including where, when and what you did
    • Any extracurricular activities you have been involved in
    • Awards, achievements, things you are proud of
    • What you love to do outside of work and studies
    • Anything else you think will help us understand more about who you are as a person and your personality

This step is where you are asked to complete a short online video interview. It is not as daunting as it sounds – it’s just three easy questions, and it should not take you more than about 15 minutes to complete. The key is to be yourself and have fun.

Video Interview Tips:

  • It’s important to find a quiet place to record your online interview
  • We suggest you present yourself as if you were attending an actual interview, so dress appropriately
  • You’ll get a chance to do a practice test beforehand

If you’ve been successful to get to this stage of the process, you will be invited to meet with some of our leaders in a panel interview. This may be online or in person.

Tips on interviews

Before your interview, make sure you do your own research. You can find a load of information about BDO on our website, as well as our social media pages.

Be prepared in terms of knowing who you are meeting with, getting here on time, and refreshing your memory on your experience to date as we are likely to ask you about work and university experience.

Dress professionally - remember, it is better to be over-dressed than under-dressed for any job interview. 

Interviews at BDO are typically behavioural based as past behaviour is often the best predictor of future performance. Typical questions that are likely to be asked will often begin with ‘tell me about a time when...’, and ‘can you give an example of when...’. Rehearse examples of previous situations you have been in. You will need to clearly explain the situation, what you did, the reason for your approach, and the outcome of your actions.

The interview is not only about us interviewing you. This is also your chance to ask any questions you may have. We suggest that you prepare some questions in advance. Questions you may consider asking include:

  • Expectations for a scholarship participant at BDO
  • The culture of the firm
  • The management style
  • Your growth potential
  • Learning and development opportunities

A few more tips – arrive on time and allow extra time in case the interview runs over. Never answer questions with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’; always elaborate. And most importantly, be yourself!

Winners announced in 2024.


Our values define who we are and what we care about – they reflect how we interact with each other, our clients and our communities. They are our foundations and concepts that we live and breathe every day at BDO.

Our BDO New Zealand values are inspired by the elements of a pepeha – the traditional Māori way of introduction – reflecting the uniqueness of the people within BDO and the collective spirit we all share in collaborating towards our common purpose - helping people achieve their dreams.

Our values are:

RANGATIRATANGA - LEAD RESPONSIBLY – represented by the maunga (mountain)

KAITIAKITANGA - MAKE SUSTAINABLE DECISIONS – represented by the awa (river)

MĀTAURANGA - SEEK BETTER OUTCOMES – represented by the waka (canoe)

WHANAUNGATANGA - IT IS PEOPLE, IT IS PEOPLE – represented by the koru (spiral)

MANAAKITANGA - OPEN AND WELCOMING – represented by the marae (meeting house)

These values have been a central ethos for running the Sir Henare Ngata Scholarship. We have chosen to represent the scholarship with the waka, which symbolises a place of learning, improving and passing on of knowledge – a journey we want our scholarship recipients to embark on with BDO. We know that as leaders in professional services, it is our duty to support Māori entering the corporate world, and put people at the centre of what we do – supporting both our people and our communities to be their best.  

Three people standing outside a marae

Supporting future Māori accountants with the BDO Sir Henare Ngata Scholarship

We spoke to our 2023 recipients about their accounting journeys, why they applied for the scholarship, and what advice they have for applicants in 2024.
Read insights

Previous Winners

Read more about the recipients of the 2022 BDO Sir Henare Ngata Scholarship for Māori accountants! Each recipient has written a blog article to share their stories and encourage others to follow in their footsteps.


Joyana Tarawa

I want to be a role model for our tamariki, especially Māori. Because of the way I was treated by teachers at kura, I want kids who might be facing similar challenges to have someone to look up to that is just like them. To know that great things are possible if you work hard and believe in yourself, don’t let anyone else determine your future based on your ethnicity or anything else!

Taimus Ritai

I want to be able to help my people with financial advice. It will be great when we can get to the stage where Māori organisations can look to our own people rather than outsourcing work. We’re definitely heading in the right direction with that – the Māori economy is growing especially in Taranaki and we will need people in business more and more.

Erutini Paringatai-Walker

BDO is like a whānau – we have regular catch ups to make sure I’m able to manage both work and study. It’s been great to work with Māori businesses and I feel a sense of joy knowing I’m helping my whānau. I’m connected by lineage to a lot of my clients and I really feel a sense that I’m giving back to my community.