With a rise of tourism in Rotorua great opportunities for young workers looking to enter a career in the tourism industry have also arisen. Guest nights in Rotorua-based commercial and private accommodation rose 7.1 percent and 8.4 percent respectively in the March 2016 quarter, despite local unemployment rate being at its lowest level since 2009.

Passionate young local Maori students have been given a hand up to the industry since 2014, through the establishment of a scholarship programme with Sudima Hotels and Resorts and Ngati Whakaue Education Endowment Trust Board.

Rotorua local Te Waiwakaata Kingi-Tait (Wai) is the 2016 recipient of the sought-after scholarship and is embarking on a career she says will enable her to proudly represent her tribe to a global audience.

“For a lot of youth, the kind of opportunity this scholarship offers does not come around often,” said Wai. “I am so grateful to represent my tribe in this way, and I know this scholarship is going to greatly benefit my future.”

The scholarship was established to encourage locals into leadership roles within the hotel industry in and around Rotorua and Bay of Plenty. It offers formal qualifications through the successful candidate’s chosen new Zealand-based tertiary institution as well as a paid 12-month placement with Sudima Lake Rotorua.

“Being hospitable and a champion for your region are vital attributes for anyone working in this industry, and this is what we look for in scholarship applicants,” said Sudima Hotels and Resorts director of human resources and co-panel member in the judging of scholarship applicants, Maree Judd. “Wai stood out to us because of her brilliant people skills and her clear passion for hospitality. Her drive to showcase her culture, of which she is immensely proud, will take her far in her new chosen career path.”