And so onto the next challenge! After two years and two months I have made the decision to leave Deloitte to take up the position of Group Financial Controller at Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa here in Whakatāne. It is a role I have been seconded into over the past year and the opportunity to take over the management of the finance department, and the operations of the $125mm portfolio, is the realisation of everything I have been working towards over the past decade.
It is not a decision made lightly. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Deloitte and the dual roles I held in both the Deloitte Private and Deloitte Māori Sector teams. I got to work with some of the brightest business advisors in the country and came in contact with some incredibly forward-thinking SME’s and Māori organisations.
It was a little over a year ago that I first came to Whakatāne. I spent most of 2014 commuting between my home in Auckland and my work down here: trying to balance a client base in two cities is not an easy job at the best of times and the increased work and travel commitments created a lot of conflict in my personal life. Something had to give, and in January I was making the move to Whakatāne. While still employed by Deloitte, living at the client site allowed for me to really develop into the role and get to know the community. I have been welcomed with open arms and for the past few months I’ve felt more at home here than I have at any point in the past five years.
Thus when the offer came to take up a full-time position with Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa, it was an easy decision to make. Deloitte was always an uneasy fit for me when it came to working with the clients. I have always preferred to work one on one with clients and to delve deeply into their work – a far different approach to the ever-changing world of business consultancy. Working for a Rūnanga has re-acquainted me with the joys of getting to delve deep into the issues and challenges that Māori organisations experience. After almost 10 years of working for clients, I now find myself being in the position of the client.
It is also a very humbling experience and I am reminded everyday that I am here on behalf of the approximately 22,000 people of Ngāti Awa descent. Everything we do, as a Rūnanga, must be geared towards supporting those 22,000. From a finance perspective, this means building infrastructure and building capability. Building the infrastructure of the iwi, hapū, and whānau so as to meet the needs of our community and better serve it; and building the capability of our iwi, hapū, and whānau to provide for a more prosperous future. This is my wero for the next several years, and I hope to be able to share as much of it with you as I can.