Diversity an asset, not a hindrance

News anchor Mike McRoberts has long believed young Maori and Pacific talent is a hugely under-utilised resource that all of New Zealand could benefit from developing.

TupuToa is exactly the kind of nurturing programme to make a difference, Mike says, and the current news anchor for Newshub is thrilled to support it by performing master of ceremony (MC) duties at the inaugural Gala Dinner on February 22.

Born in Dunedin, of Māori (Ngati Kahungunu) heritage, and raised in Christchurch, Mike started his career in broadcasting straight from high school with RadioNZ.

After 11 years in radio, he moved onto television, and has lived a fascinating life as a journalist, reporting on current affairs in NZ and abroad, often travelling to the world’s most dangerous places to get the story, and report the facts.

Growing up, it did not matter he was Maori, or that his family struggled financially, Mike says.

“I always felt if I studied and worked hard, I could do anything, but the reality today is so different,” he adds.

“The economic and social divide makes it so much harder for many Maori and Pasifika students to succeed - TupuToa is a pathway that can change that.”

TupuToa is an innovative programme which creates pathways for Māori and Pasifika tertiary students into corporate careers, while providing them early-career support.

It offers an internship strand, which students enter in their first or second year of tertiary studies and complete two or three annual placements before graduating; and emerging leaders strand, which graduates from the internship strand (and a limited number of other young Māori and Pasifika) participate in for the first two or three years of their careers.

The Gala Dinner will celebrate will celebrate the 28 interns who have completed summer internships, applying their tertiary studies in the corporate workplace.

It will also acknowledge the support provided by host corporate agencies and the interns’ whanau throughout the internships.

Internships are a terrific learning opportunity for both the student and the workplace they are entering, Mike says.

“I’ve spoken to so many business leaders over the years that have been frustrated by their company’s lack of diversity.

“TupuToa allows the students to be themselves and for their diversity to flourish in a safe and secure environment, and it also allows the company to see how much richer they can be as an organisation with that diversity in their ranks.”

When Mike first entered mainstream media over 30 years ago, there were not many Maori working in the industry.

“To be honest, there still aren’t many.”

With diversity, there are often challenges and Mike says without the support of a programme like TupuToa, it took him some time to recognise his diversity and then to embrace it.

“As a journalist, one of the difficulties I have faced culturally, is challenging authority and being too trustful of people in power.

“I’d always been taught to respect my elders, and at the time it made me question if I was really cut out to be a journalist.”

But he got around it by understanding that culturally, he also had great empathy for others.

Mike has become the voice for those who did not have one, which has helped him perform otherwise difficult tasks.

He looks upon his Maori heritage, not as a hindrance, but as an asset in his news reporting, built on strong story-telling, the use of humour, and a great passion for people.

Please book your tickets for TupuToa’s Gala Dinner at Auckland’s Maritime Room on February 22 through i-ticket.

For more information about TupuToa visit www.tuputoa.nz

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