Māori and Pacific Business Student of the Year 2021

This Award is for the Business School student who has displayed excellence in community service, communication skills, extra-curricular activities, academic performance, and knowledge of world issues.

winners of the Māori and pacific business student of the year 2021
Maata Blake Mafi(Pacific winner 2021) and Paraone Luiten-Apirana(Māori winner 2021) .

Māori Business Student of the Year 2021

Paraone Luiten-Apirana 

Paraone is in his fifth year of a Commerce and Engineering conjoint degree majoring in Marketing and Mechanical. He is of Ngati Hikairo, Tuhoe and Te Arawa descent. 

"I first heard about Māori Business Student of the Year as a high school leaver in 2016. Roland Brown, one of my tuakana from high school, had won that year. I was impressed by his achievement but I also took it as reassurance that Māori from backgrounds like mine could find success at the University of Auckland. His success gave me a path to follow and played a role in my choice to study Business. From that point, I always dreamed of winning this award to be a role model for students who are where I once was. 

"This is my second attempt applying for this award, so winning this year feels amazing as it shows my growth over the last year. I felt a lot more settled throughout the process, and I have a greater understanding of what I want for myself in the future. I was honoured to compete against the two other finalists, both from the Te Mana Pakihi student association. Both Piripi and Te Ao would have been deserving winners, and having tremendous competition enhances the prestige of this award."

Pacific Business Student of the Year 2021

Pacific Business Student of the Year 2021

Maata Blake Mafi

Maata is a final year Bachelor of Commerce student majoring in Taxation and Commercial Law. Her family originates from the Kolomotua, Tongatapu and Ha'apai areas in the Kingdom of Tonga. She is a learning leader, uniguide, matatau tutor and a social officer for the Commerce' O Pasifika student association as well as a proud mother to her beautiful three-year-old daughter.

A recipient of the Kelly Undergraduate Scholarship, University Business School Support Award and the Fletcher Building Employee Educational Scholarship, Maata has secured a graduate role with the KPMG Tax team for 2022 as a consultant.

"I would like to thank God, my dad and my family who have all contributed to my success and this incredible achievement. Thank you to Willy Uilli and Lisa Filatonga from the Business School and all of the student associations I've been involved with for guiding and supporting me throughout my University journey.

"As the Pacific Business Student of the Year, I encourage students to strive for excellence in everything they do. Use your goals, values, the sacrifices of your family and your struggles to propel you through adversity."

Competition guide

The Māori and Pacific Business Student of the Year award assesses students on the following criteria:

  • Communication, including written, informal and prepared speech
  • Service to the community
  • Extra-curricular activities
  • Academic performance
  • Business, national and world events


All full-time students with Māori or Pacific Island heritage who are currently enrolled in a Bachelor of Commerce, or a Bachelor of Property at the University are eligible.

Students enrolled in conjoint degrees are also eligible, as long as one of their degrees is Commerce or Property. Students must have completed at least two semesters of study before they are eligible to enter.

Assessment process

Candidates for the Māori and Pacific Business Student of the Year must submit:

  1. A one-page cover letter explaining how you meet the above criteria by answering the three questions detailed on the application form
  2. A transcript of your complete academic record at the University of Auckland including any conjoint degree
  3. A copy of your CV (maximum two A4 pages)
  4. A completed entry form  

Judging process

Stage 1

Each finalist will participate in four five-minute interviews with six judges. The topic of the interviews may cover:

  • Your extra-curricular activities
  • Your involvement in community, voluntary and service
  • World events
  • National events
  • Business events
  • Role of ethics in business
  • Career plans

Stage 2

Each candidate will make a five-minute speech on the topic. The topic will be announced to the finalists when they are shortlisted. This will take place in an open forum with invited guests including friends and whānau.

The prize

  • Māori Business Student of the Year $650 prize money
  • Pacific Business Student of the Year $650 prize money
  • Judge's Choice Award $150 prize money
  • Winners will have a photo and brief bio on the Business School's "Best in Business" display

All finalists will also receive a certificate. This years competition is sponsored by EY and all finalists are invited to an event with EY representatives.

Application form

Applications for 2021 are now closed.

Contact us

For more information, please contact:

Willie Uili
Student Support Adviser
The University of Auckland Business School
Phone: +64 9 923 7120
Email: w.uili@auckland.ac.nz.

Simône Regan
Employer Liaison Manager
The University of Auckland Business School
Phone: +64 9 923 2199
Email: simone.regan@auckland.ac.nz