Topics: Arts, Business, Entertainment

From Māngere to New York City

By Jessica Tyson
  • Auckland

Angela Watene works at one of the world's biggest accountancy firms in New York City and is one of the first wāhine to feature in the new NUKU series, which celebrates indigenous women.

Watene, of Tainui descent, was brought up in Māngere, Auckland and works as a management consultant for PricewaterhouseCoopers.

“I work in a financial crimes unit, working in investment banks to help mitigate against the threat of fraud to themselves or their customers," she says.

“It’s always fast-paced and there are always things going on so it’s vibrant, it’s exciting."

The Tainui descendant came home over summer to catch up with whānau and be interviewed and photographed for NUKU, an audio-visual series profiling 100 wāhine by photographer Qiane Matata-Sipu.

“With Angela coming from New York City, I wasn’t able to travel there to interview her there so I’ve got a New York landscape that we’re going to shoot her with," Matata-Sipu said during the photo shoot.

“I love Angela’s story because she is just like everybody else.  All of these women are actually just like everybody else, but have decided to take a pathway that is quite different.”

When Watene finished school she decided not to go to university, says Matata-Sipu.

Instead, she travelled overseas, got a temporary job and moved further and further into her position.

“You’re always told that in order to be a success you have to take this particular pathway and she took a totally different pathway, is hugely successful and yet is still very fabulous on what she does," says Matata-Sipu.

“I also like the fact that she’s travelled to more than 50 countries in 40 years.  That’s pretty phenomenal.”

Watene says living in New York can be “crazy at times”.

"I’ve got some really good friends there who have become my family away from home. So that’s super important to me.”

But her favourite part about being back home has been catching up with whānau.

“I really miss them. It’s tough being away from home and we’re quite close as well so the best part for me is spending time with them and being together. It’s good whānau time.”

She says indigenous people shouldn’t feel restricted to achieve their dreams.

“If you want to open your own business, if you want to bake the best rewena bread or anything you want to do, it’s achievable with the right kind of positive thinking," she says.

“And that’s why I think that what Qiane is doing is super important because it’s a really good story, it’s a positive story in celebrating the different journeys that indigenous women have taken, are taking and there are really positive role models out there for our people.”