Career progression and Māori representation: Why BDO Sir Henare Ngata Scholarship recipient Chris turned to accounting

After enjoying eight years in hospitality, Christian Kearns (Chris) decided to return to a career ambition he’d always wanted to work toward: accounting. After enrolling at Wintec and working through commerce accreditations, he’s set to finish his Bachelor's degree at the end of this year.

Below, Chris talks about his journey as an adult student, what made him apply for the Sir Henare Ngata Scholarship and his hopes for future Māori accountants.

“Accounting always stood out to me as a career path and I’m now realising that ambition.”

After high school, I wanted to study business management, but that didn’t pan out. Instead, I spent a good eight years working in hospitality, gaining a lot of knowledge and skills but eventually deciding it wasn’t the right long-term career option for me. I decided to go back to studying, choosing accounting as my major after being drawn to it at school.

I was 24 when I went back to study, so I made a point to investigate the best institutes for adult students. I knew Wintec was attended by many older students so enrolled there. After completing a level three business paper, I moved on to a level four paper, did a diploma and eventually moved on to a Bachelor of Applied Management with an accounting major. I’ll finish that at the end of this year before transitioning to a graduate role in the Audit and Assurance team at BDO Auckland in 2025.
“The values of the BDO Sir Henare Ngata Scholarship really resonated with me.”
I was inspired to apply for the scholarship after reading about its aim to increase the representation of Māori in the accounting profession. The scholarship will help relieve some of the short-term financial pressure associated with studying, allowing me to focus more on my studies and transition smoothly into the graduate position next year. On a personal level, it means a lot to receive the scholarship and be part of something that highlights the importance of diversity and Māori inclusion.
“If you’re in accounting and you’re Māori, apply for this scholarship!”
Through my grad role at BDO, I’m looking forward to kickstarting my career in accounting, growing my network and developing knowledge and skills to help reach my goals. The role and the scholarship will hopefully play a big part in setting me up for my future career.

To anyone considering applying for the BDO Sir Henare Ngata scholarship in the future, I recommend giving it a go. Do your research, be authentic and be yourself!
“I want to inspire tauira Māori to pursue further education.”
Looking to the future, I want to become a chartered accountant and ultimately encourage tauira Māori to pursue further education, whether that’s in accounting or not. I hope to do my bit to improve the wellbeing of our Māori community.

About the BDO Sir Henare Ngata Scholarship

The BDO Sir Henare Ngata Scholarship aims to help address the underrepresentation of Māori within the accounting profession. It offers financial assistance, an internship or graduate opportunity with a BDO firm, registration to the Ngā Kaitatau Māori o Aotearoa hui, and mentorship with BDO. To find out more, click here.

Chris is one of three recipients of the 2024 BDO Sir Henare Ngata Scholarship. Click here to read Connor’s story and here to learn about Rosie.