Māori businessman gives $5000 scholarships to students

By Taroi Black

A Māori businessman who faced tough times during the Covid-19 lockdown has funded a $5000 scholarship to help students from his former Melville High School in Hamilton get into tertiary education. 

Pat MacFie and his wife Jada, who created the scholarships under their MacFie Foundation, aims to ensure rangatahi Māori have a future. “I’ve been able to have a little bit of success so what better way to give back into the community”, he says.

He’s the co-founder of the company innovation agency Indigo alongside professional boxer and rugby league footballer Monty Betham. But this year they lost $500,000 of work overnight and its investors backed away due to the global pandemic.  

However, the team decided to retain all 14 of their staff and in a week set up a platform that could help the 300,000 small businesses they work with.

Now his aroha has extended back to his original stomping grounds in Hamilton where he saw the reality of poverty growing up.   

“If we can change the financial narrative around Māori and what the future prospects are, then I think we can have real impact.”

Year 13 Māori student Lachey Edmonds is the first recipient to receive a $5000 scholarship to help with her tertiary studies into social work. She works every day after school to save money to pay for her studies.

“I’m very grateful. For me, it’s very important, especially when I am supporting myself with mahi,” she says.  

MacFie wants to support 100 Māori rangatahi over the next ten years. "It feels like one of the most significant things I'll ever do in my life," MacFie says.