Michael Manoah Moka

Michael Manoah Moka, one of two Toi Uru Roa: 2009 Paul Kelly Māori Undergraduate Scholarship winners at the Business School for 2009, talks about his future aspirations, dreams, philosophy of service and involvement in the University community.

Michael Manoah Moka
Michael Manoah Moka

I am doing a Bachelor of Commerce double majoring in accounting and marketing. I am currently in my third and final year of study, and hope to graduate in mid-2010. In terms of short-term academic aspirations, I am hoping to study further and complete a masters degree in either of my chosen majors.

I have a goal to travel and work around the world. This dream is testament to my upbringing, where all these aspirations were always encouraged. However, even though they were encouraged, they were only seen as dreams by my financially-struggling generation of family. My aspirations today are all to do with the attitude that “nothing is impossible if the drive is there”.

It would be hard for me to make people believe that becoming an accountant is my dream career. I believe that this is just a “means to an end”, and a stepping stone to actual dreams in the future. My long-term goal in life is to be a role model for all those who have challenged difficult barriers in life. I believe I can do this by succeeding in my chosen field and being an example of a success story for people also living in hardship.

My dream is to help families like my own, who have been trapped in the poverty cycle. I intend to achieve this by gaining credible tertiary qualifications to change my own future. I can then be in a better position to mentor and help others to break out of the cycle of poverty and underachievement. This dream has been shaped by my upbringing, and I am sure it defines the person I am today.

Having said that, I am not driven by making millions of dollars, despite putting myself in a position to reach a healthy state of financial stability. I am heart-driven to succeed for all those in my family (and families similar to mine) that do not believe they can do it. I want to show them that despite the barriers, anything is possible.

Continuing with the philosophy of “anything is possible”, my CV illustrates that I believe in being as involved in as many things as possible. I was involved in many sporting teams at Kelston Boys High School – ranging from cricket (6B’s captain), wrestling (third in nationals) and table tennis (attended nationals), and I also played for a community gridiron team, the North Peninsula Panthers (second in our competition).

A major involvement which I have been associated with since the age of six is kapahaka. I have been a member of many groups including Te Roopu kapahaka of Te Atatu, Kahurangi no Te Atatu, founding member of Te Putahitanga o Te Rautahi, its senior group Te Rautahi, Te roopu kapahaka o Kerehana and, most recently, the University kapahaka group Waipapa. Through this involvement in kapahaka, I achieved many milestones, winning regionals, nationals, kaitataki tane (male leader) at various levels and competitions throughout my time.

In 2001, I led Kahurangi no Te Atatu to Los Angeles and Winnipeg in Canada to perform kapahaka in a cultural gathering called Folklarama. Most recently, I performed with Waipapa to open the Netball World Cup. This has constantly reinforced my connection with my Māori side, educated me with stories of my ancestors, and offered a small glimpse into the disciplines that were abided by in history.

The most significant achievement in my life has been the role of head prefect for Kelston Boys High School. Kelston means so much to me; it was the first real time that I felt stability in my life. The boys were more like a family, and when I was elected head prefect, I developed my philosophy on leadership and service. This type of leadership is “servant leadership” – I honestly believe that a leader is one who serves the team. As a result, I was able to earn wholeheartedly (not demand) the respect of the staff, peers and wider community. To inspire the future of Kelston through servant leadership, I had to close the gap of superiority with the juniors, and they all had the fire in their eyes that showed they could be whatever they wanted to be. I took personal responsibility in instilling pride in the boys about who they are and what they want to be.

Through servant leadership, I have really grown a passion for promoting education and providing incentives for people to attend further study. Over the past year, I have been employed by The University of Auckland because of this passion - I have been a facilitator for Whaia te Pai Tawhiti and the Katti Programme, and most recently chosen as a MATES mentor back at my old school Kelston, where I used to be a mentee. I believe in spreading the message for people to be the best they possibly can be through these programmes, and bridging the gap between high school and tertiary education.

I have also involved myself in the student associations. The main purpose of these groups is to help smooth the transition into university for students in the first years. I am currently the treasurer for Nga Tauira and founding member of MANAfika for Māori and Pacific Business School students (now known as Commerce Association Pacific and Māori or CAPM), of which I am the 2009 president. I take my position in the association seriously, as I understand how overwhelming it is as a Māori or Pacific Islander within the Business School, and it is hard to find people of your own nationality to associate with. This association provides that commonality and, as the president, I personally take responsibility for being an ambassador for the Business School with my main focus serving the “first years”.

Last year I attended the Aotearoa New Zealand Māori Business Leaders Awards where I witnessed the prestige of this scholarship. Although the recipient was absent, I was very enthusiastic and wanted to challenge myself to see if this award was within my capabilities. I am yet to have a student loan, due to three factors: ASB provides me with some financial aid; personal savings where I put in a percentage of my income for University; and these scholarships offered by the University. With this scholarship, the goal of not attaining a student loan will be even more achievable when I start my postgraduate studies. A strength that I have had to develop due to my financially struggling upbringing is a huge focus on budgeting and saving. This is a substantial contribution to my financial survival while at university.

Hopefully my story reinforces my passion to succeed, and my drive to be the best I possibly can be with the help of this University.