Kristy Manley-Griffin

Kristy Manley-Griffin

Ngāti Whakaue (Te Arawa), Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāti Porou

Kristy Manley-Griffin, 28, says her biggest motivation for studying a Bachelor of Business at the University of Waikato in Tauranga was her daughter Ivy, as she wanted to create a better future for her with more opportunities.

Accountant at GHA Chartered Accountants and Management Consultants

Tauranga, New Zealand


Kristy Manley-Griffin

“Three years ago, I was a single mother made redundant from a job I really enjoyed,” says Kristy.

“It made me think, what should I do now? Most of my life I’d been told that I have potential, but I always wondered what it was that I should really do. I remembered enjoying Accounting at high school, because I’ve always been good with numbers, but I wasn’t focused enough academically at the time so I put it on the backburner.”

With a little encouragement from her friends and family, the former Te Puke High School student decided to take the plunge and go back to school for the first time in nearly a decade.

Kristy, who is of Ngāti Whakaue, Ngāi Te Rangi and Ngāti Porou heritage, is straight-up when she admits that returning to study wasn’t all smooth sailing.

“If I’m being honest, the university experience was quite intimidating for me at first. As a high school student, I only went to school to play sport and hang out with my friends. So as I walked through the doors of this building I thought, what am I doing here?”

Fortunately, she had “a pretty epic team” pushing her to keep going when the assignments were piling up, and encouraging her to overcome her mortal fear of giving presentations in class.

“I’d check my smart watch and my heart rate was at a cardio peak! But every time my mates would be there telling me it would be all good… and here I am today," she says with a grin.

To fulfil the Work-Integrated Learning (WIL) component of her degree, Kristy completed a three-month internship at Tidy International, a New Zealand software company with offices in Tauranga and the United Kingdom.

Kristy was asked to carry out a business research project for them that would identify ways to update and improve their cloud-based billing system for clients.

“I found the research quite interesting, because I learnt a lot about invoicing, and they were really happy with my recommendations and my final presentation.”

As a uni student, Kristy was grateful to receive a $2,500 scholarship from GHA Chartered Accountants & Management Consultants, a Māori-run business based in Rotorua and Tauranga that seeks to grow the next generation of emerging Māori business leaders.

GHA was founded in 2005 by Glenn Hawkins, an alumnus of Waikato Management School who has employed a large number of Waikato graduates over the past 16 years.

Kristy says she felt honoured to be chosen as the student speaker for her university graduation ceremony, having overcome a huge fear of public speaking.

Shortly after achieving that milestone, she landed her first job at GHA in July 2021 and is enjoying the opportunity to develop her skills. Her goal now is to become a Chartered Accountant and use her financial and business knowledge to help her clients and manage her family’s kiwifruit business.

As well as being an academic high achiever, Kristy is also a talented netball player, who was named 'Most Promising Netballer of the Year' by Te Puke Sports & Recreation Club in November 2020.

Kristy has proved herself capable of setting goals and smashing them and she has some strong advice for graduates of the Class of 2021: “Be proud of yourself, push yourself to get out of your comfort zones, and don’t forget that you are capable of anything.”

Kristy Manley-Griffin