Jason Tualima had a talent for numbers from an early age, so it was no surprise to his parents when he followed his older sister, Hai-Yuean and moved north to Hamilton, to start a Bachelor of Business Analysis at the University of Waikato.
Jason currently holds the positions of Deputy Secretary for Corporate Services and Chief Financial Officer at the Ministry for Pacific Peoples.
After graduating, Jason worked for the New Zealand Defence Force before moving to London and gaining experience at the BBC and Lloyds Banking Group. On his return to New Zealand, Jason continued his career in the public sector and re-joined the New Zealand Defence Force before joining the Ministry of Health.
The former Tawa College student, who is of Samoan, Chinese and Irish descent has been a trailblazer for Pacific graduates in the public sector. Jason is from the villages of Salelologa, Puapua, Iva, Sataua, Fale’ula and Lepea. He was bestowed the Chief title of Leatigaga from the village of Salelologa in 2014.
As a member of both Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand and Certified Practicing Accountants Australia, Jason is passionate about developing the next generation of accounting graduates.
“I’ve had people who were instrumental in my career and believed in me, so it’s only right to give back.”
While studying Jason worked for K’aute Pasifika Trust as a tutor and mentor. Now, he continues this work as a coach and mentor for the Public Service Commission’s Pacific Mentor Programme, where he mentors young Pacific public servants.
He is also involved in The Treasury - Te Tai Ōhanga as a Finance Key Position CFO and leads the programme of work focused on building the capability for Pacific finance professionals.
“I’m working with the education and public sector to get more pacific people into finance roles across the board with the intention of getting them into leadership roles and onto governance boards. I’ve also linked in with the consulting firms and the mahi they do, and am on the Public Sector Finance Graduate programme, so very keen to see some Waikato Alum come through!”
Jason says that the practicality of his degree, in particular the modelling and costing papers he took, have been fundamental to his career and helped give him confidence in his roles to date.
“Waikato allowed me to be the best version of me and reminded me to be authentic and genuine. The strong links back to Tainui, the practical element of studying, being fostered by the lecturers and celebrated for my talent made me thrive as a person and student.”
Jason says that he always felt supported during his studies at the Waikato Management School.
“Being one of the only Pasifika people in your class in the early 2000s meant that you stood out like a sore thumb. Having people in leadership and teaching roles that showed kindness and encouragement made a huge difference to my experience on campus and was a lesson I took with me into my career.”