I had a different article prepared to upload today but as it is my first day back at work after a months holiday, I wanted to instead delve into my professional life and share with you why it is that I do what I do.
Readers will recall that in April last year I handed back my law practising certificate and took up a job in the accounting and Māori sector teams at Deloitte. 9 months on and it is probably one of the best decisions that I have ever made. In short, I am inspired everyday with the work that I do, and the clients that I am fortunate enough to work with.
The core of my work is providing strategic and accountancy advice to Māori organisations. Alongside the traditional accounting functions, we sit alongside our clients and provide a framework to their overall strategic direction.
Advising on Iwi strategy is why I love doing what I do. We facilitate, we guide, we advise, and we provide the framework of an Iwi’s overall strategic direction. These sessions, which can run upwards of 4 hours, are wonderful insights into the hearts and minds of each Iwi. No two Iwi are the same in their specific challenges and ideas for growth and this prevents our job from being simply providing a cookie cutter strategic direction to each Iwi. Factors such as Location, size, engagement of members, assets, cash funds, terms of the settlement, and available skills differ across the clients I work with, and each difference necessitates a different response and a different approach.
We are the same, but we are different. What works in one part of the country and with one Iwi will not necessarily work with another. What works for large Iwi will often not be appropriate for smaller Iwi and vice versa. So while it is great to look to the likes of Tainui and Ngai Tahu for guidance, what has worked for them will not often work for other, smaller, Iwi. The fundamentals remain the same – putting the preservation of the putea first, investing in what you know such as land and people, and working to increase the skills of members (for more, see the introduction to the Māori Economic Development Framework) – but the means of achieving them will differ.
Ultimately, my job is about people. Yes, I work for a large multi national organisation and yes, we work with clients often criticised as being the corporate Māori elite. But I work with a team of Māori accountants and business advisors, working with another group of Māori to leave a better future for our tamariki. People helping people. Every single Iwi organisation that I have worked with, however big or small, have one core goal: the social, cultural, and economic development of their people. The means will differ between Iwi, but the overall focus remains the same.
This focus may not appear obvious to those who argue that Iwi organisations are pursing profit over people, but this is my experience. Every Iwi organisation faces a conflict between providing for the immediate needs of its members and ensuring the long term prosperity of the Iwi. Striking an appropriate balance between these two outcomes is a major challenge.
At the end of the day, our focus on people is the driving force behind the work that we do. And being in a position to assist our people with their social, cultural, and economic development is the driving force that makes my job worthwhile.