Meet Genevieve Mautu, our newest intern at the Auckland offices of Pacific Trade & Invest (PT&I).
Ms Mautu hails from the remote little town of Buin, near the southern tip of the autonomous region of Bougainville in Papua New Guinea. A student of accounting at Auckland’s Unitech under New Zealand Aid’s Pacific Scholarship Programme managed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade, she will spend the next 10 weeks interning at PT&I.
Ms Mautu says she is a serious student and is deeply interested in accounting and business. She has already won the Top Scholar Award comprising a certificate and a cash prize this year at UNITEC. Keen on pursuing a professional qualification in accounting, she is the student representative for Chartered Accountancy at UNITEC. Now in her second year, she graduates in April 2018.
Before arriving in New Zealand last year, Ms Mautu had never left PNG. “It was a big change for me,” she told Pacific Periscope. “But I love this country. The people are so friendly and it feels so safe. It’s wonderful.”
Ms Mautu has worked as an accounts officer in the province of New Ireland as well as in Port Moresby after completing her diploma from the PNG University of Technology in Lae. “I have worked as an Accounts Payable & Receivables Officer at a hotel in Port Moresby and at a supermarket on Lihir Island,” she said, detailing her four years of work experience.
At PT&I Ms Mautu will help compile information through research for country profiles on PT&I’s trade and investment information resources. “The research will be desk-based and will add to our knowledge base of investment avenues in Pacific Island Countries as well as on trade related information,” Head of Investment and Chief Operating Officer Manuel Valdez said.
Trade Development Manager Joe Fuavao said her research and compilation will add to the growing information pool on pacifichub.co.nz, PT&I’s online information tool for Pacific Island investment and trade, which is accessible globally and which businesses interested in the region are increasingly referencing.
“I am fascinated by how PT&I helps find markets for Pacific Island Countries in New Zealand. I am sure the experience I gain here will help Bougainville businesses export more. There is so much Bougainville has to offer – cocoa, coconut, copra, coffee and we in Bougainville are sitting on a lot of gold,” Ms Mautu says.
She is inspired by the story of the New Zealand-based company that recently launched “Bougainville Chocolate” made from organic cocoa beans shipped here from the island.
On graduating, she hopes to work for the Chamber of Commerce or the State’s Commerce Department in Bougainville.
Ms Mautu is one of three sisters raised by a single, primary school teacher mother, after her accountant father passed away when the girls were little. She deeply respects her mother’s resolve to stay single in the interests of educating her daughters and is grateful for all her sacrifices while making both ends meet on her small income and paying for her daughters’ education. “Education isn’t free on Bouginville,” she said.
The decade long (1988-1998) civil war on the island that is believed to have claimed 15,000 lives adversely affected their education as it did many of her generation. “There were no schools for several years at a time,” she said. “That delayed our education by many years.”
Ms Mautu’s long term goals are to gain qualifications as a Chartered Accountant and work for one of the “Big Four” accounting firms.