24 Dec 2015

From the Marae to the boardroom

8:46 pm on 24 December 2015

Maori interns at a national energy company say they are on a mission to take their newfound business skills back to the marae.

Maori interns Cara Berghan, Awhina Eru, James Reynolds

Maori interns Cara Berghan, Awhina Eru, James Reynolds Photo: Supplied

This is the second year Contact Energy has taken on Maori interns over summer.

University of Auckland electrical engineering student Cara Berghan is working full-time as an intern with Contact.

She is one of three Maori interns who will be paid $20 an hour over eight weeks.

Ms Berghan of Ngai Takoto has joined a team responsible for building relationships with iwi partners.

"At the moment it is just getting lots of experience under my belt so when I am in a position to go back home and offer my services to our people I will have the knowledge to do that and I would also have the credentials to do it as well, so they won't just be trusting me because I'm family."

Ms Berghan has already been asked by her whanau if she could head a renewable or sustainable energy project for her local marae.

"In the long run, I have always dreamed of giving back somehow."

Before starting her internship in November, Awhina Eru was teaching te reo Maori to staff at Contact in Taupo.

"Being in a corporate business has been a great opportunity and a very big eye opener for myself. What I'd like to take away is experience, knowledge and how I can feed that back to my whanau."

Ms Eru gained an internship through her iwi Ngāti Tahu in Reporoa, where a lot of electricity is generated through geothermal fields.

She said she wanted to get a better understanding of the company so she can inform her people and improve their relationship with the energy company.

The third intern for the summer is James Reynolds from Ngati Kahunhunu ki Wairarapa and Rangitane.

Mr Reynolds is also studying at the University of Auckland to become an electrical engineer and will be working in a team that conducts trades on the New Zealand's wholesale electricity market.

Contact spokesperson Tina Porou said having corporate experience will look good on their CV.

"I realised there weren't many Maori in the corporate space generally so I thought this would be a good way to start to ensure that young Maori saw corporate New Zealand as an option for them."

Ms Porou said an intern from the first intake Maria Johnston ended up getting a job with the company and that could happen again.

The internships will finish in mid-February.