Emma Park - Trustee Profile

Like many Ngāti Rārua Ātiawa Iwi Trust owners, Emma has spent much of her life growing up outside of Te Tau Ihu. In Emma’s case, her grandfather left Motueka initially after being forced out of their home from a fire. They then left Te Tau Ihu to head further north where greater employment opportunities could be found. With her whānau moving north Emma’s journey began in Whaingarora (Raglan) where she was born.

Raglan is a huge part of Emma’s life, and although she does not whakapapa to the whenua, growing up there has created a special bond to the place, which she shares with her two children and her partner. Emma’s high school years were in Auckland and she later moved to the Waikato, where she has since spent most of her life.  

Having grown up outside of Te Tau Ihu, Emma hadn’t had yet had much interaction with her homelands – but that would soon change.

Emma first came home to Motueka as a young adult when she was the recipient of an education grant through the Trust. At the time, she was attending a hui with 20+ other grant recipients who came together with other owners to contribute to the Trust’s social initiatives, which later became known as Te Whanake.

This was a cornerstone moment for Emma. Coming home and connecting with the whenua, where our tūpuna grew up and where they walked on the land is how she truly came to understand her homelands.

From that moment on, Emma was a regular attendee at the AGMs held in Motueka at Te Awhina Marae, and not long after she was called upon from her whānau to stand up and be a representative on the Trust’s board. Through her role on the Board, Emma is a natural conduit between the two communities in Motueka and the Waikato, where there is a strong Ngāti Rārua and Te Ātiawa ki Motueka community. When appointed as a Trustee in 2008, it was fitting that one of Emma’s early roles was a position on the Education Committee.

Extremely passionate about education, Emma pursued a second education herself, and in 2011 become a member of the New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants. Since then, Emma has held various financial accounting positions including at one of Aotearoa’s largest tertiary education providers, Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, and New Zealand’s largest Crown research institute, AgResearch.

Today, Emma is an independent contractor providing financial accounting services for various organisations and Iwi Trusts in Taranaki, where she now lives with her partner and their pēpi. She also Chairs the Audit and Risk Committee and the Investment Committee of the Ngāti Rārua Ātiawa Iwi Trust Board.

Emma has been motivated to be successful in all parts of her life, starting right from the role of being a single parent through to her education and her career. Emma’s experience getting a second education and the impact that has had on her life is what inspires her to influence and encourage others to be passionate about also pursuing further education.

“Education empowers our people – I am motivated to break down the barriers for our people to access education, and through the Trust’s education grant programme, I can help enable that.”

As the Trust doesn’t distribute funds in the same fashion as other Iwi Trusts do, as governed by our Empowering Act, the Trust’s core distribution method is through education grants – a method to which Emma believes is where it all begins.

“If all our people are educated, it means greater opportunities for employment, and that means we’re living well. I believe education is pivotal to this.”

Emma is of Te Ātiawa descent and holds a Bachelor of Business majoring in Accounting and holds an advanced certificate in Māori Ambassadorship and Leadership. 

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