• 0800 DIVERSITY (348 377) | 09 525 3023


Heartland Bank’s Manawa Ako internship programme is a two-way street, giving rangatahi Māori the opportunity to explore an industry where they are significantly underrepresented, and the bank a chance to learn from the new perspectives the participants bring.

Photo of two men working together at a computer

As the bank explored its strategy for becoming an employer of choice for Māori, it considered whether its environment reflected a bicultural society and identified ways to improve the reach, recruitment and retention of its workforce to better serve Māori.


This was addressed with the development of Manawa Ako, an internship programme to provide opportunities for the next generation of Māori and Pasifika to experience working in the financial sector and a corporate environment.

Pou Ārahi -  Kaupapa Māori Joanne McNaughton says, “Heartland sees this as a business priority for a variety of reasons. We believe it is the right thing to do, mahi tika, and Māori are a skilled yet underrepresented talent pool available to the financial services sector. Māori need to be part of the solution to creating equitable outcomes for Heartland’s customers and the wider community.”

The programme started in 2017 with 10 high-achieving Year 13 students from the InZone Education Foundation, an organisation Heartland sponsors through the Heartland Trust. Since then 50 young people have participated in Manawa Ako, coming from a variety of schools and organisations.

Rangatahi are placed in almost all business units and a tuakana is assigned to each intern. Managers go through a workshop to help them prepare for the intern, which includes learning the correct pronunciation of their names. The executive leadership has a hands-on approach, attending events, talking to interns about their career journey and making time for the interns to meet the Board of Directors. Interns also spend time with the CEO.

Intern Tiana Manukia appreciated the way Manawa Ako was an opportunity to learn, contribute and pave the way for others.

“I’m young, I’m a female and I’m a proud mixed Polynesian. I can contribute new and improved ideas that’ll have a positive impact on the Bank, as well as hopefully inspire and or encourage those who ‘look like me’ that they too can work in such an environment and can chase their career aspirations with more hope than fear.”

Photo of Polynesian staff building a marshmellow tower

Te Whaiora Te Maapi Pene is a previous intern who is now an operations analyst with Heartland and says Manawa Ako opened doors she may not have considered previously.

“Being comfortable to be myself at Heartland is important for me. When I started the Internship in 2018, because this was a new environment for me, I wasn’t sure what parts of me and my culture would be accepted within the bank. Through doing the programme alongside other young Māori and Pasifika this really allowed me to feel comfortable to be myself within this new environment. Māori opinions and perspectives were encouraged and sought after for certain projects during the internship programme which gave me a sense of value and purpose within Heartland.”

The programme acted as an impetus for Heartland to refresh its corporate values and incorporate Māori language and culture throughout.

Group Chief of Staff Laura Byrne says, “Becoming an employer of choice for Māori is an ambitious goal and we wanted to ensure our workplace culture would support us to achieve it. Refreshing our corporate values was the first step we took, enabling us to express the mātāpono (values) that are unique to Heartland. Weaving a Māori perspective into how we articulate our mātāpono signals our intention to create a workplace and financial service that enables Māori to succeed as Māori.”

Our Alliance Partners