Date posted: 18/11/2021 5 min read

Scholarship win a ‘blessing’: Te Ariki Paitai

Craig Norgate Scholarship 2021 winner Te Ariki Paitai has a deep dedication to the community and the not-for-profit sector.

In Brief

  • Te Ariki Paitai, the CFO of Te Whāngai Trust in Waikato, has won a Craig Norgate Scholarship for 2021.
  • The former public servant made a mid-career decision to study accountancy after seeing the value it brought to communities.
  • He now volunteers his finance and funding expertise to several not-for-profits.

By Hamish Barwick

Te Ariki Paitai, the 2021 Craig Norgate New Zealand Memorial Scholarship winner, isn’t interested in building a career in a Big Four firm. Instead, his ambition to become a CA is sparked by what accountants can do for the community.

“I made a mid career decision to become an accountant, not only for the opportunities it would afford me and my family, but as a public servant I saw the value that accountants brought to their communities, and in particular the not-for-profit sector,” he explains.

The father of three is chief financial officer at the Te Whāngai Trust in Pōkeno in New Zealand’s Waikato district. The Trust operates several native plant nurseries for revegetation projects and provides people facing significant life challenges with employment and training.

Paitai took up his role with the organisation in April 2021 even though it meant a pay cut after 15 years working in the public service.

“I took the leap because I really believed in their vision that every person, no matter their circumstances or background, should be allowed to work and be productive members of society if they want to be.”

He says it was a “blessing” to be contacted and told he had won the NZ$5000 Craig Norgate Scholarship, which assists with expenses related to studying the CA Program.

“The lockdown was really tough on Te Whāngai Trust so being able to take that expense out of the budget was a huge help. July to September is our planting season and that’s where we make all our money. The rest of the year is about production and keeping our people employed,” he says.

With the assistance of the scholarship, Paitai plans to complete the CA Program in mid-2023.

The Craig Norgate Scholarship

The scholarship is one of two awarded by CA ANZ in the memory of Craig Norgate FCA, a visionary New Zealand business leader who was a driving force in establishing New Zealand’s Fonterra dairy co-operative in 2001 and its first CEO.

As head of the New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants, Norgate helped lead its amalgamation with the Australian body to create CA ANZ in 2014. He died suddenly, age 50, in October 2015.

“I hope one day I can give as much back to my community and the profession as he has,” says Paitai. “I am honoured to have my name next to his.”

Becoming an accountant

Paitai first encountered accounting during sixth form at high school. It wasn’t something he enjoyed at the time, and he decided to study carving instead. But with more life experience, Paitai became aware of the value of accountancy.

“I spent about five years of my career working directly with not-for-profits. That was when I really saw the value accountants brought to the world in terms of being able to take financial information and make that accessible to people such as grant funders, board members and managers to make good decisions,” he explains.

“It’s making those numbers talk and telling a story that otherwise wouldn’t be heard.”

In 2017, Paitai began studying a Bachelor of Business majoring in Accounting through the Open Polytechnic of New Zealand while working full-time. He and his wife also became parents to twins, and their goal was to return home to Harataunga/Kennedy Bay on the Coromandel Peninsula.

Giving back to the community

Paitai is dedicated to community and the not-for-profit sector.

“My passion is for the not-for-profit sector,” he says. “I believe it is undervalued and underserved and that’s where my energies lie.”

Te Ariki PaitaiPicture: Te Ariki Paitai.

“My passion is for the not-for-profit sector,” he says. “I believe it is undervalued and underserved and that’s where my energies lie.”
Te Ariki Paitai

He volunteers his funding and finance expertise to a number of organisations including TimeOut New Zealand, which connects the owners of holiday homes to New Zealanders living with a terminal illness, OpenLaw NZ and the Hamilton Hearing Association. He is also a trustee with Coromandel Independent Living Trust.

In the past two years, he has supported these organisations to secure more than NZ$850,000 in grant funding.

He was also recently appointed as a decision committee member for the Lottery Waikato Community Committee, which distributes Lottery funding to groups in the Waikato region every year.

But that’s not the end of Paitai’s community involvement. He’s been a volunteer firefighter with the local fire brigades for close to a decade.

“When people are in a crisis and they are freaking out, and you turn up in a uniform, you can see the stress goes away because someone in control is here.

“You step in, you’ve done your training and you can provide professional support. When the community is in a time of crisis, just being able to turn up and do that is an amazing honour and really rewarding.”

Read more:

What are the Craig Norgate Scholarships?

To honour and celebrate Craig Norgate FCA’s contribution to the profession and community, Chartered Accountants ANZ offers two annual memorial scholarships to support the next generation of CAs from New Zealand and Taranaki region.

Read more

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