Despite making up a quarter of Aotearoa’s population, Māori and Pacific people are massively underrepresented in the corporate environment and boardrooms around the country. 

No NZX listed company has a Māori or Pacific CEO, while only 17 percent of the top 60 firms have at least one executive who identifies as other than Pākehā.  

Not only is this lack of representation creating a knowledge gap that deprives organisations of the benefits of diversity and inhibits business growth, but it also contributes to the persistent inequalities facing Māori and Pacific communities. 

TupuToa is working to change this, by developing and empowering these communities and building the cultural capability of partner organisations – like Datacom. 

As a TupuToa partner for several years, Datacom welcomes around 10 tauira into the business on an annual basis, providing mentorship and support during their internship placements. 

Cloud practice lead at Datacom, Desiree Hutcheon, is quick to point out that the learning goes both ways with these ‘mutually beneficial’ TupuToa internships. 

“We’re always impressed by the talent of our TupuToa interns, who consistently bring a willingness to learn, a positive attitude, and fresh perspectives that help inform the work we do to the business,” says Desiree. 

As Aotearoa’s largest homegrown IT company, Datacom chose to partner with TupuToa due to an alignment in goals and values.  

“Making a genuine contribution to the communities where we live and work is at the heart of everything we do,” says Desiree. “We really value working with TupuToa for this reason, and I think it’s why the partnership is so successful – we share a vision for Aotearoa, where all Kiwis can thrive and shape their own futures.”  

For the interns, the opportunities provided by TupuToa and Datacom are making a real difference.  

“I think coming through TupuToa has massively helped my career – it’s given me some great experience and I’m really grateful,” says 2023 intern Charlie Kake-White. 

Ana Ahio, another member of the 2023 cohort, agrees that her experience with TupuToa and Datacom has been transformative. 

“It was all new for me. When I heard about TupuToa, I thought ‘no, I couldn’t possibly do that,’ but the programme and team gave me the confidence to try something new, start a new career path,’ she says. 

“I’ve had great support throughout my internship, and I love being part of the Datacom team.” 

Photograph of three young people talking around a table in front of a large window.
TupuToa graduate Wednesday Wilson - now a permanent Datacom team member - with two of the 2023 TupuToa interns Charlie Kake-White and Ana Ahio.

Many of Datacom’s previous TupuToa interns – like Chris Vailalo and Wednesday Wilson – have gone on to join the business as a permanent part of the team 

“I didn’t have anyone in my whānau working in corporate or working in tech so I didn’t have that knowledge to draw from when embarking on my IT career, but coming into Datacom with TupuToa, I really had that whānau-type support that enabled me to succeed,” says Wednesday. 

She is now a part of Datacom’s graduate programme, with Desiree as her manager in the Cloud team. 

“My opportunities for growth at Datacom have been so numerous. There’s so much development, so much mentorship, so much ongoing learning and development – and that’s exactly where I want to be.” 

Supporting the growth of career starters like Wednesday, Charlie, and Ana comes back to the values and vision that TupuToa and Datacom share, says Desiree.  

We know tech is critical to the growth and success of our country, so we want to make sure we build the skills that our country needs now and in the future.” 

For mentors like Desiree who are championing the work TupuToa does on the ground, there’s a sense of personal accomplishment in playing a part in this growth. 

“My own experience of working in tech is that it has opened doors and given me so many opportunities,” she says. 

“Sharing that with others is really fulfilling, and I can’t wait to continue to watch our TupuToa interns grow and become the leaders of tomorrow. We’ll be cheering them on wherever they go.”

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