In the last 25 years, over 400 students have graduated from the Tohu Huanga Māori Business Development program at The University of Auckland. Program manager Ngaroimata Reid says they are preparing them for modern day Māori business environment.
Up-skilling to give back, Bernard O'Donnell (Te Atiawa, Ngāti Mutunga, Kai Tahu) proves that it's never too late to chase your dream.
He says, "I'm a role model for my children, I'm a role model for my grandchildren, despite my age, you can achieve your dreams no matter how old or young you are."
Ngāroimata Reid (Ngāti Wai) says the program was born of the vision people such as Ella Henry had 25 years ago about wanting to educate our people in terms of Māori development in business.
"They had a vision back then and sort of looked forward 25 years later and here we are in the middle of iwi settlements where a business degree is needed and having that business knowledge and acumen is really important."
26 student’s graduated from the Tohu Huanga Māori Business Development program in 2017, Reid says they have been prepared for modern day Māori business environment.
"We've got iwi settlements happening in the North, a number of iwi with the current government have already settled, so who's going to manage, that is probably the question," says Reid.
Bernard O'Donnell says, "That's a new path for us, an esteemed path too, the settlements are good but the question now is where to from here?"
He wants to give back to his people.
"They supported me, so I hope to work for them, even though I'll be based in Auckland, I'll be pursuing work for our people, for my people."