Seeking opportunity

To seek opportunities and seize them is the message to sound loud and clear for 25-year-old TupuToa intern Saia Mataele.

The University of Auckland student, who is on track to completing a Master of Arts, and a Bachelor of Laws this year, is one of 28 Māori and Pacific interns selected for TupuToa internships.

Although Māori and Pacific comprise around 22 percent of the general population (a figure which is projected to rise to 30 percent by 2033), they are conspicuous by their absence from the leadership of corporate New Zealand.

In a new initiative, TupuToa has placed interns with relevant NZ host corporate agencies, depending on their area of study, to complete internships with the aim of developing the next generation of Māori and Pacific leaders in business.

Saia, who stems from Vava’u in Tonga, has spent the last three months completing an internship with ACC’s (Accident Compensation Corporation) Enterprise Portfolio Management Office, in Wellington.

Recently, Saia has organised and led a networking event in Wellington for young Māori and Pasifika professionals, demonstrating leadership skills TupuToa and host agencies aim to empower the interns with.

The connections Saia has made during the internship have been invaluable, be it with managers, seniors or fellow interns, and the intern is aware of the value of networking.

During his time at ACC, he has had many highlights and these include gaining valuable insights into how the organisation operates; working with amazing people on challenging and meaningful work; and being given numerous learning opportunities, he says.

Probably the greatest lesson has been to seek opportunities, not shy away from them, and to be sure to seize them, he adds.

“Overall, the internship has been a great platform to gain industry knowledge and valuable experiences of the corporate sector.”

TupuToa’s research shows only 17 percent of NZ’s top 60 firms have an executive who identifies as other than European/Pakeha, and Saia is determined to buck this trend when he completes his studies.

“I would like to enter the corporate sector hopefully as an analyst or consultant … the long term goal is to set up and operate my own business,” he says.

On February 22, Saia and his fellow interns will gather in Auckland and their host agencies to celebrate the inaugural TupuToa Gala Dinner to celebrate the completion of their summer internships.

The event also acknowledges the support provided by host corporate agencies and the interns’ whānau throughout the internships.

To book your ticket to the dinner, visit iTicket

Visit for more information about TupuToa.

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