Prime Minister's Pacific Youth Award winner Manakolahi (Manako) Nemaia often gets asked if she is able to help out people from her South Auckland community with their accounts.
“People will come up and ask me, and I have to tell them ‘no, I don’t have the right skills…yet’,” the 21-year-old explains.
However, following an internship with BNZ, Manako knows for sure, accounting is what she wants to do.
New Zealand-born Niuean Manako grew up in South Auckland, and attended Onehunga High School.
Manako went on to do a Bachelor of Business in Accounting, at AUT and found she had a real passion for accounting and finances.
Although she was working at AUT’s Office of Pacific Advancement, she lacked work experience in a corporate environment.
During her final year of study, Manako’s mother mentioned the Prime Minister's Pacific Youth Awards (PMPYA) to her and encouraged her to apply, as did some AUT staff members.
“I really thought I wasn’t going to win anything, but thanks to the belief of others in me, I applied,” Manako says.
However, in 2016, Manako collected the BNZ - Commercial and Corporate Award at the PMPYA, and secureda four month internship with BNZ.
The Awardrecognises a young person who has shown significant academic achievement or business activity in the fields of commerce, accounting, marketing, international business or similar.
“Winning this award took me to new spaces – I never thought I would work at a bank after uni … it really made me think about the path I was on, adding to the practical experience I can take with me into the workforce.
“I would not have had this opportunity if it were not for the PMPYA.”
Manako’s four months at BNZ turned into a nine-month internship, which she recently finished in November.
While there are no suitable roles currently at BNZ for Manako to apply for, she has returned to AUT’s Office of Pacific Advancement where she will make a plan to achieve her goal of becoming finding work as an accountant.
“It was all a bit of a shock at first, going into the bank where it was very professional and quiet and not what I am used to but that changed quickly.
“I really enjoyed it and now I am prepared to do whatever it takes to get me to a place where I can assist people in my community when they ask me for help.
“Finding an opportunity in accounts will also provide me with stability as well.”
The PMPYA is a fantastic initiative, and Manako strongly encourages her peers to enter, she says.
Eight categories make up the PMPYA, with amazing prizes and experiences to be won.
Applications close on February 6, 2018, ahead of an awards ceremony in March (date TBC).