“To other Māori thinking of taking up accounting – do it!”: Introducing our BDO Māori accounting scholarship winners

The winners of the BDO Sir Henare Ngata Scholarship for Māori accountants have been announced! Each winner has written a blog article to share their stories and encourage others to follow in their footsteps. Our first article comes from Taimus Ritai:

Taimus Ritai - BDO Māori accounting scholarship winner

My journey into accounting started, strangely enough, when I was working at a construction company. One day, I looked around and thought “this is not what I want to be doing.” My father had been encouraging me to study for many years, and I decided that it was time to start the journey – I took up a Diploma in Business.

It was really scary at first leaving full-time work for study, especially because of the financial implications of that decision. I grew up in a Māori school so there were also a lot of English words I didn’t know, but now I’m more used to studying in the university environment so things are a lot easier. When I was doing my Diploma, I realised it was the accounting papers that were making me most excited. So when it came to studying my BA in Applied Business Management, I decided to major in Accounting.

I heard about the Sir Henare Ngata Scholarship for Māori accountants through BDO people I had met at the Ngā Kaitatau Māori o Aotearoa hui (National Māori Accountants Network hui), which I was able to attend the previous year through my internship with Parininihi Ki Waitotara (PKW).

I’m so glad I have a space on the BDO scholarship and can’t wait for all the practical experience I’ll get through the internship – it’s one thing learning in a compact environment like a classroom, where you have to put everything in your head and you either pass or fail, and another applying all of that knowledge in practice and being able to ask questions and see how things work in real life.

Taking my knowledge and experience back to my Iwi

As a descendent of Te Atiawa, I have been involved in rangatahi wānanga and Taranaki Tū Mai.

Being a part of Te Atiawa rangatahi wānanga has allowed me to reconnect to my roots of where I come from and to learn about the history of my Iwi. The main reason I’ve pursued accounting is because I want to take my knowledge and experience back to my Iwi. My aspiration is to be a Chartered Accountant working in a local accounting firm that assists and supports Māori organisations including Iwi and Hapū.

I’m really happy that I’ll be able to work with Māori businesses at BDO. 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.

It was scary coming into accounting and business, but I’ve been able to take up a lot of opportunities. I would say to any other Māori who are thinking about taking on this path of accounting – do it! It’ll be a challenge but do it, and at the end of the day you’ll be able to achieve exactly what you want to achieve – and that’s coming from someone who didn’t think it was possible.

This is the first in a series of articles from our three winners of the BDO Sir Henare Ngata Scholarship for Māori accountants. Watch out for Joyana Tarawa and Erutini Paringatai-Walker’s articles soon!