Wairua Taru Grant Pukeiti

Wairua Taru Grant Pukeiti

Associate, Risk Services Team, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC)
Master of Laws with Distinction
Bachelor of Arts (Honours)
Bachelor of Arts in Criminology and Māori Development

Cook Island Māori, Te Rarawa, Te Aupouri, Ngāti Hine

He wanted a career where he can make a difference to his people, says Wairua Taru Grant Pukeiti who completed a Bachelor of Arts in Criminology and Māori Development, Bachelor of Arts (Honours) as well as a Master of Laws.

“During my bachelor’s degree, we learned about the various issues Māori and Pacific people face throughout the criminal justice system, and how discrimination continues to be perpetuated in society. As a result, I wanted to learn more about navigating the legal system and understand the underlying issues that contribute to an overrepresentation of Māori and Pacific people in the legal system.

“Throughout my Bachelor of Arts, the lecturers and staff were all very friendly and it was good to be around like-minded people who understand the social issues our society faces. Studying criminology really makes you aware of the factors that lead to crime, the social construct of crime, crime prevention, and the overrepresentation of indigenous people. The topics you cover in the postgraduate law programme are also very engaging, and the support and clarity of what the law faculty expects from you is affirming.”

Since completing his Master of Laws at the end of 2022, Wairua has now joined PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

“I enjoy my role as an associate in the risk services team at PwC because of its challenging nature. Each day brings different tasks and projects that test my critical thinking skills and require different approaches. Working on a variety of projects with different teams and clients also allows me to broaden my knowledge and experience, and develop my interpersonal skills. I love that my job is both rewarding and dynamic.”

An obvious choice
For Wairua, it was a family connection that initially inspired him to come to AUT for his university studies.

“I knew that I wanted to study criminology and Māori development. My family suggested that I should study at AUT and they helped me apply. I’m so glad that I came to AUT and I hope my mum is proud of me as she used to be a lecturer at Te Ara Poutama, AUT’s Faculty of Māori and Indigenous Development.”

He certainly made the most of his time at university.

“In addition to my studies, I represented AUT by being a senior student ambassador and an RUOK advisor to support other students. I also decided to complete an AUT Edge Award, which helped me develop my employability skills through volunteering, leadership challenges and employability workshops.

“Over the past year, completing my Master of Laws with Distinction and being placed on the Faculty of Culture and Society's Dean's List for my honours degree have been my biggest achievements. Looking back to when I first started studying at AUT, I really didn't think that I would come to accomplish as much as I have. I’m just blessed and grateful to have come this far.”

Advice for other students
His advice for other students is simple: reach out for help early on in your studies.

“AUT offers so much support for students, especially postgraduate students. Attend the workshops on offer, and reach out to your supervisors or faculty for support. They will most certainly be able to assist you in any way, shape or form to ensure that you finish your postgraduate degree. From my experience, as a postgraduate student you gain access to so much support, whether that be through your faculty, supervisors or peers.”

Wairua knows what he is talking about and particularly appreciated these support services while writing his honours degree dissertation.

“The biggest challenge I faced was the dissertation I completed for my Bachelor of Arts (Honours). Writing such a large document, and conducting your collection and analysis of data is draining. The number of hours I poured into that research amounted to more than every assessment combined in my undergrad.

“I was glad that AUT offers many postgraduate workshops to help with various aspects of writing your dissertation or thesis. I’m grateful to my supervisors who pushed me and provided me with the necessary support to help finish it.”