From ballerina to budding accountant: BDO Sir Henare Ngata Scholarship recipient Rosie’s career journey

Growing up, Rosie Owles had two career paths in mind: ballet and accounting. After graduating from the New Zealand School of Dance, Rosie was ready for a change. Now, she’s one of three recipients of the 2024 BDO Sir Henare Ngata Scholarship, which supports Māori students in their pursuit to become accountants.

Below, Rosie shares her move from barre to balance sheets, what it means to receive the scholarship and how she hopes to continue Sir Henare Ngata’s legacy.
"I didn’t have a normal pathway to accounting.”
From a young age, I wanted to become a ballerina or an accountant. Ballet was a huge part of my life growing up and my koro and aunty are both accountants, so I had these quite different career paths on my radar. I left school at 16 to train full-time as a ballerina at the New Zealand School of Dance, graduating with a Diploma in Dance Performance three years later – right in the middle of the pandemic. COVID meant there were no dance jobs available, no one was performing, and you couldn’t go overseas to dance, which really put a spanner in the works!

At that point, I felt ready for something new. I enrolled at Te Herenga Waka (Victoria University of Wellington) to start a Bachelor of Commerce with an accounting major and Māori studies minor, keen to explore my interest in numbers and learn more about my Māori roots.
“The BDO Sir Henare Ngata Scholarship is an awesome initiative to get more Māori into accounting.”
I applied for this scholarship after coming across it while researching internships. Its combination of accounting experience and Māori support seemed like the perfect blend for me, and I was already interested in working at BDO. My interest intensified when I learned that Sir Henare Ngata was my Koro’s mentor and employer and had close ties to our whānau in Gisborne.
“It’s an honour to have received this scholarship.”
I hope to use this opportunity to kickstart a meaningful career and continue Sir Henare Ngata’s legacy by using accounting to help Māori communities. Throughout my upcoming internship in the Audit and Assurance team at BDO Wellington, I’ll work one day a week for the rest of my degree. I’m excited to apply my technical knowledge to practical work and join a team of like-minded people.
“The scholarship will help me prioritise my studies as I prepare for my accounting career.”
The financial assistance offered through the BDO Sir Henare Ngata Scholarship will help ease financial pressures and ensure I can focus on studying as I finish my degree.

It’s a great opportunity and I’d recommend anyone who’s considering applying to go for it! I found the experience of applying and interviewing valuable in itself – just put your best foot forward and take the opportunity to be welcomed into an amazing team.
“I’d love to be a role model for other aspiring wahine Māori accountants.”
I’m passionate about working in Māori communities. Looking ahead, I’m interested in following in the footsteps of some of my whānau by working with iwi and Māori businesses.

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 about our scholarship, click here.

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