Chad Paraone (Te Aupōuri, Ngāi Tahu) is a partner at EY and an instrumental figure in championing Britomart’s careers orientation programme for students from Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Hoani Waititi Marae. Here, he tells Jeremy Hansen what EY offers the students, and how the programme fits into a broader view of sustainability.

JEREMY HANSEN Could I begin by asking you to introduce yourself Chad?

CHAD PARAONE Kia ora Jeremy. I’m Chad Paraone. I’m Te Aupōuri from the far, far north, and Ngāi Tahu. Kāti Huirapa is my hapū, down just north of Dunedin. I grew up in the far, far north on a dairy farm in Te Kao, a small Māori community. I came to boarding school in South Auckland and university in Auckland and have spent 30-odd years working in the health sector and in public organisations. I chair our Māori incorporation in the far north, so that keeps me connected back up home, to forestry, farming, things like that. I’ve also spent time performing kapa haka at top level, and 20 years paddling waka toa down in Tainui territory in Ngāruawāhia. Now I’m a partner with EY on the business consulting side. I’ve been here for just over a year now working with a fantastic team of bright, smart people.

JEREMY You were instrumental in supporting our careers orientation and work experience programme with Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Hoani Waititi Marae from the beginning. What was it about that programme that piqued your interest?

CHAD Firstly, I’ve got connections with Hoani Waititi and a friend, Hare Rua, who leads that fantastic kura. Secondly, one of the things that’s important to me is that I use my time at EY to help with the growth and development of the organisation in the Māori space – both our direct Māori capability and the capability of our colleagues who are not Māori. And then probably the third one is the importance for me of helping these up-and-coming rangatahi, our leaders of tomorrow: helping expose them to what this professional services world is all about and what the opportunities might be. It’ll hopefully pique their interest and show them pathways that might not have been visible to them before. If they’re interested, we’d love to see them translate through and become colleagues to us.

JEREMY Can you talk a little bit about what makes Hoani Waititi special, to contextualise that for our readers?

CHAD Sure. I mean, these rangatahi coming out of Hoani Waititi, the vast majority of them would’ve come through the kōhanga. This is the kōhanga generation: these are talented individuals who’ve been steeped in the tikanga, the kawa, the wairua, the mātauranga of our mātua tūpuna. They’ve been gifted that awareness, that knowledge, that intelligence. They have these additional gifts. What I want to help them do is help shape the world of tomorrow, more than we’ve been able to in our generation.

JEREMY What does it offer EY? We’ve talked about this programme being a reciprocal scheme rather than an offer of help to the students. What are the benefits for EY of hosting these four work experience students here over an eight-week period?

CHAD There are two or three things. A lot of our colleagues have not had that exposure to deeper Māori connection, deeper Māori community, deeper Māori outlook and worldview. And bringing these tauira into EY, our colleagues get to mix and mingle and the rangatahi have different questions, are interested in different things, and have a different take on it. So to me, it’s an exposure thing. It’s exposing our EY colleagues to the talent and the depth out there. It’s helping them understand there are diverse realities across Māoridom, from those who have been immersed in that world right from kōhanga, and those who are disconnected from iwi, disconnected from their marae, their rohe, and don’t have the language. It’s really good for our colleagues here to see these ones coming through who are confident in their reo, who are completely at home with things like cultural protocols. It’s a normalising of that world inside EY.

JEREMY I guess there’s no uniform view on this, but I wondered if you could speculate on what EY looks like to young Māori students at Hoani Waititi?

CHAD That’s a really good question. I walked the floors here when I first came into EY, and I looked around and didn’t find it familiar: it didn’t say, ‘This is Māori, this is whānau, this is warm’. I didn’t see a whole lot of Māori colleagues. So I imagine that these rangatahi would come in and see a foreign world, a world where things look different. What was important to me was that a number of our Māori colleagues and our other colleagues turned up to show these up-and-coming leaders of tomorrow that this is a space that they can easily traverse. Part of it is trying to break down the potential strangeness of it and actually show there are people like them who are in here, and that those in here who are not Māori are also very interested in them and what they can bring.

JEREMY This interview is going to be part of our sustainability report, where we take a wide view of elements from carbon emissions through to social sustainability. I wondered if I could ask you to describe how you think this programme fits into sustainable objectives, because EY is also deeply invested in this area. What part can it play in the overall progress we need to make as a broader culture towards greater sustainability?

CHAD These tauira come here with a very different concept of taiao, of the environment. They’ve been steeped in that space: Papatūānuku, Ranginui, the creation, our atua. And when you’ve been steeped in that, when you emerge into the working environment, there is a different lens that comes out in the context of our work engagements. It becomes more relevant to ask: Who has mana whenua? What are the stories associated with that place? How are you going to respect that place? How do we look after our moana, our awa? That gifting of that kind of worldview that’s happened with these rangatahi, they’ll bring that in a different way. And we would absolutely look to these rangatahi to bring those views forward. Many of our clients are insistent that world view is present, so I think that sustainability approach will be well-served by these tauira coming through. I also see this kind of initiative as community development. This is helping these parts of our community see a different world that’s out there and understand that world of professional services is accessible to them. It’s a lens or a window that they may not have had the opportunity to look through before. If they step into the professional services space, they’re sharing a greater knowledge base and they’re tapped into a global EY network. It’ll grow the capabilities in these communities, and it’ll grow the knowledge base. It’s a long lens, but to me that’s a part of growing sustainability and looking after that.

NEXT / Learn more about Britomart's work experience programme in an interview with Hare Rua, principal of Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Hoani Waititi Marae.