AUT business graduate, Manako Nemaia, was named the winner of the BNZ Commercial & Corporate Category at the Prime Minister’s Pacific Youth Awards, held at Parliament in Wellington this week.
The award category recognises academic achievement in the fields of accounting, commerce, marketing and international business.
The win will see Nemaia begin a paid four-month internship at BNZ in February 2017.
Later this month, she will graduate from AUT, receiving a Bachelor of Business with a major in Accounting.
For someone who never studied accounting at school and struggled with the transition to university, Nemaia’s achievements are a testament to her hard work.
While much of the course content seemed foreign to begin with, she persevered and found satisfaction in being able to grasp concepts that were once confusing.
Now, she draws on her own experiences to help others.
“I always try to reassure young people that they can do this too. For me, accounting was a difficult major. But, I believe that students, including myself, should not feel discouraged from pursuing something that is challenging,” she says.
Professor Geoff Perry, Dean of Faculty of Business and Law at AUT, says that through her determination to pursue accounting, Nemaia sends an important message.
“It’s wonderful to see her success. It shows that attitude, drive and diligence is much more important.”
She was the recipient of a three-year scholarship from the Faculty of Business, Economics and Law, and a Peer Leader – helping to provide academic and pastoral care for other students.
Nemaia is also proud to be involved in AUT’s UniPrep programme for the second-year running.
She acts as a mentor for school-leavers as part of a university preparation programme that runs over the summer break at AUT South Campus.
“I just want to help people – whether that’s as an accountant or mentor, I just want to be someone who can help in any way,” she says.
Looking forward, Nemaia wants to become a qualified accountant. She aspires to help grow New Zealand companies, with the goal of one-day building her own business.
She also wants her future to be about serving others.
“I still have a lot to do for my people and it begins with me and how I shape my own life. I will continue to be a part of my community and plan on being a more valuable member by improving myself as an individual.”
The Prime Minister’s Pacific Youth Awards recognise and reward high-achieving young Pacific New Zealanders, who have a growing part to play in the future of this country. The awards are designed to motivate, celebrate and inspire young Pacific people.