Carrying the Hopes and Dreams of Future Generations

Date: 30 Aug 2023

When Ngana Finau stepped onto the stage to receive his Bachelor of Commerce degree, he was carrying not just his hopes and dreams, but also those of his family. As the first person in his family to graduate from university, Ngana’s qualification bears the aspirations of his entire whānau – and the self-belief he has developed through Dilworth and the Staples Education Foundation has been pivotal to his success.

“This is something I’ve always dreamed of accomplishing and it’s something that my family has aspired to achieve. When I walked onto that stage, I carried all their hopes and dreams with me,” says Ngana who majored in Accounting and Finance at the University of Auckland and now has his dream at KPMG, one of the ‘big four’ accounting firms.

But the Ngana you see today is not the same young man who stepped through the gates of Dilworth many years ago. He says it wasn’t until he received a disappointing result in NCEA Level 1 that he became fired up to fulfil his potential.

“I was a late bloomer when it came to the education side of things at school - it took falling short of an Excellence Endorsement in Level 1 to spark that light within me. I’d always avoided working hard in class as I was afraid to fail, but all it took was a simple comment from a teacher, ‘I believe in you, and I believe you can accomplish great things when you put your mind to it’. Having someone else express their belief was the driver for change.”

This profound moment gave Ngana the determination he needed to achieve his goals.

“I’m so grateful for the potential Dilworth saw in me, the encouragement, support and guidance they provided, and the push they gave me to work out of my comfort zone and grow. They would give me lessons and lectures when I was falling off the track, and they instilled in me the self-belief to understand that anything is possible when I put my mind to it.”

Ngana’s knack for maths and numbers gained traction under the expert eye of Dilworth teacher Mrs Kench, who ignited his interest in the world of business.

“I became drawn to areas like how to manage your finances and cash flow and it wasn’t long before I developed a passion for accounting as well. Mrs Kench turned a subject which I initially wasn’t very good at, into a subject I thrived in, showing me a pathway which I could see myself working in.”

Receiving the Staples Education Foundation Scholarship provided further impetus, giving Ngana the support he needed to transition into the world of tertiary study and ultimately into employment. In addition to a financial endowment of $5,000 each year, the scholarship provides a critical support framework for students with everything from networking, mentorship, and a dedicated buddy to ongoing training through the Support and Development Programme.

“The Staples Education Foundation Scholarship was truly life-changing. I don’t know where I’d be with my studies if it wasn’t for their generosity and constant companionship and support. They enabled a smooth and comfortable transition from high school to university and played a part in my transition from university to work with their large network of connections. The generosity of this scholarship also allowed my family to focus on the goals they were working towards instead of worrying about funding my studies.”

Ngana’s mentor Kaison gave invaluable advice and insights that helped him navigate the challenges of tertiary studies and work, serving not just as a guide and role model but also as a friend. Networking opportunities provided another scholarship highlight, offering a stepping stone into what is now an exciting career.

“The networking opportunities the Staples Education Foundation provided were broad, immeasurable, and outstanding. They secured me work experience at a company and into a role of my choosing, and in doing so allowed me to experience work first-hand.”

Now Ngana has turned that experience into a full-time job, securing his exciting role working in Audit for KPMG NZ, and launching a career he – and his whānau – are so proud of.

“I aspire to further progress and develop in the corporate world so that one day I can inspire others with similar backgrounds to me. One of my biggest goals is to be able to have the financial means to look after my parents, paying them back for everything they’ve done for me and for all the sacrifices they’ve made for me and my siblings.”

Ngana is on a trajectory to achieve all that and more.

“The impact the scholarship has had – and will continue to have – will be everlasting and has created a ripple effect among the lives it has touched. Thank you all for believing in my potential and for helping me grow into the man I am today. Not only have you all helped me through my university journey, but you have enabled many more future opportunities for me to grow and prosper in life. For that, I am truly grateful.”