Breadcrumbs

Using her voice to empower communities

5 July 2021

Alumni

Bella Takiari-Brame is passionate about her culture, community and creating solutions that make a difference for the vulnerable.

With a strong background in accountancy, Bella has gravitated towards full-time governance roles in recent years on iwi and corporate organisations which have enabled her to use her voice to empower her communities.

This is something she started at the age of 18, after taking on her first role as the Treasurer of the Māori Land Corporation.

“I’ve always loved the governance space but knew that it was vital to explore the theories of academia, get the operational experience and embed my feet in the real world before taking it on in a professional capacity,” says Bella.

The former PioPio College student says she was empowered by her secondary school teachers and kuia to embrace both Te Ao Māori and the academic world, so taking the next step into higher education was a no-brainer.

As the first person in her family to attend the University of Waikato, Bella moved into Bryant Hall for her first year of studies and was among the second intake of the Māori Kaupapa floor. Bella says her Halls of Residence experience is a treasured memory. “We were a close-knit floor, full of like-minded people which made the transition to University much easier.”

She started her first year with the intention of studying a Bachelor of Social Sciences, however, after meeting mentors Parehau Richards and the late Kelvin Mataira, she changed tact to include the Māori Resource Management Programme into her studies which allowed her to connect to her whakapapa and introduced her to Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

“The experiences and peers that I met during my time at Waikato are forever connected. The University has a special place in my heart and always will. It offered lots of opportunity for Māori when I first started studying here, and still does,” says Bella.

After graduating with a Master of Management Studies in Accounting, Bella started her career as an auditor and qualifying as a Chartered Accountant in Auckland, before moving to London to take up the role of Financial Controller role for petroleum giant, Shell.

Throughout her ten years in London, Bella never lost sight of where she was from, staying connected to Te Ao Māori through the Ngāti Rānana Māori Club. On her return to New Zealand with a young family, she and her husband returned to study at the University of Waikato to complete a total immersion Māori language programme, Te Tohu Paetahi.

“To come home from London and to re-connect to our culture and our whenua through Te Tohu Paetahi was a special way to transition back home,” says Bella.

There are many skills that Bella took from her studies that have held her in good stead throughout her career so far including discipline, the importance of professionalism and effective communication skills. All of which she channelled into one of her more recent roles as the interim CEO of the Maniapoto Māori Trust Board. Taking on this role just a month before the Covid-19 pandemic hit, meant Bella led the iwi through the challenging year of 2020.

“Despite the uncertainties we faced, being in this position and leading our people with aroha through such a pivotal year was a privilege, and one I’m proud to tell my children and grandchildren about,” says Bella.

Today, Bella holds many governance positions on boards in a range of sectors that allows her to continue to grow and learn, including ACC New Zealand, Te Ohu Kaimoana, Braemar Hospital and Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, to name a few.

“My journey so far has been one of experience and development, where I am continually learning a lot about myself,” says Bella.

Her advice for anyone looking at getting into governance roles is to get the experience. “If you want to be on the board of a corporate, then get the experience first so you can confidently advise. Listen to your intuition as it will develop over time to the point that you’ll know what to put in your kete and what to throw out.”


Latest stories

Related stories

Cap

Scholarship support for Waikato alumni returning to study

University of Waikato alumni keen to return for further study have a scholarship designed specifically…

Shaun Kirkham

Hard work and dedication a winning combo for alumnus and Olympian

Fresh from winning an Olympic Gold medal, Shaun Kirkham is using his experience as a…

Competition ignites plans to help Kiwi company achieve global market domination

For the first time in its remarkable 25-year history, the 49th Waikato Management School Case…

parth-patel

International alumnus now “living his dream” thanks to studies at Waikato

Parth Patel grew up in Western India. He spent his high school years following his…

Kris Metcalfe

University alumnus has dream job shaping new Pāpāmoa school

University of Waikato alumnus Kris Metcalfe is part of a team of exceptional educators shaping…

Heather c

Waikato Distinguished Alumnae panel to share knowledge on leadership and governance

An impressive panel of CEOs, directors and a QC will share their thoughts on the…

Kim Pickering

Researchers make building materials from waste saving money and the environment

As housing construction costs skyrocket and building materials are in short supply, University of Waikato…

parekawhia-mclean

From Waikato to Wellington and back again for Distinguished Alumna

Distinguished Alumna Parekawhia McLean's success in the public sector is well-documented, but perhaps lesser-known is…

The call of the Waikato

University of Waikato student Melody Nepe always knew she’d end up working in the health…

Meleane Burgess

Council welcomes Management alumna

The University of Waikato Council has welcomed well-known Waikato leader and independent director, Meleane Burgess,…

Eva Collins

Waikato researchers help launch circular economy initiatives for business

An $11 million University of Waikato-led research project to develop New Zealand’s circular economy has…

andrew-smith

Rhodes Scholar, Distinguished Alumnus and CEO supports students at the University of Waikato

Distinguished alumnus Dr Andrew Smith is funding an annual medal in excellence and kicking off…