Donna Kerrison

My entire whānau are regular savers and this builds strong habits and accumulates funds so that we will have more opportunities in the future whether it’s to buy a house, study or put some money away for later. The key is to stick with saving once started, to make it a habit.

Donna Kerrison is fulfilling her dream of assisting people into better employment pathways through her innovative and inspiring work: Māori and Pacific Jobs. Donna, whose whakapapa connects her to Ngāi Tahu (Kati Huirapa), Ngāti Tūwharetoa (Ngāti Hikairo and Ngāti Turangitukua) and Muaupoko, also sees Whai Rawa as a key to her dream and the dreams of others.

Four years ago Donna was asked to develop Māori Pacific Jobs because the owners saw a need that wasn’t being catered for, and since that time has seen business grow strongly and really make a difference for many. “I wanted to help Māori and Pasifika peoples by providing a dedicated job board for them, to inspire them, and to show where opportunities are.  We advertise all University of Auckland, AUT University’s and the Ministry of Education’s vacancies.  Some of the UoA’s academic vacancies possibly don’t even have one single Māori qualified to do that role, however the University continues to advertise all their jobs because they want to inspire our youth. I love that kaupapa.”

Donna also understands that being able to contribute to the growth of the Maori economy is important because of what it gives back to Māori communities and the country as a whole.  She sees the same benefit in Whai Rawa. “By encouraging and inspiring people to attain better educational outcomes Whai Rawa can make a big difference to the future wellbeing of whānau. It’s never too early for people to start thinking about the various career pathways they can take.”

Donna’s also a big believer in finding mentors and role models to inspire taiohi (youth).  “If there’s no one in your immediate whānau, look to your wider whānau and hapū, and to your local kura and community.   Never underestimate the difference one person can make in inspiring change.”

Inspiring taiohi is also one of the reasons Donna’s whānau have all become members and savers within Whai Rawa, even her 14 month old nephew. An even bigger driver was the recommendation of her mother, Georgina Te Aute Kerrison, that the whānau all join.  As Donna says, “Mum pushed us to join – she said we should, we listened to her and enrolled and I am very pleased we did. Joining Whai Rawa and becoming regular savers has helped bond us, give us a sense of shared purpose, and helped remind us where we come from.”

“My entire whānau are regular savers and this builds strong habits and accumulates funds so that we will have more opportunities in the future whether it’s to buy a house, study or put some money away for later. The key is to stick with saving once started, to make it a habit.”

“All of the withdrawal options are useful, and we as a whānau will utilise Whai Rawa as much as we can to help us with all of these life events. For instance, my eldest niece is looking towards university and Whai Rawa will help her with that.  When we’re little, all we want to be is nurses, firefighters, teachers or police officers but it’s important to be aware of all the possible pathways that lay ahead of us and our tamariki.  As they grow and our Whai Rawa accounts grow, I feel pride for my iwi, and proud that my whānau are part of this initiative. Ultimately it’s about tino rangatiratanga, it’s about all of us getting into it, embracing it, and getting out there and building what we want.”

Donna Kerrison has built and runs a business that helps Māori and Pacifica peoples and she is also leading by embracing Whai Rawa. Thank you for your mahi Donna and your leadership.