A successful young Rotorua man is calling for fellow Māori to follow in his footsteps and consider a career in the city's booming tourism industry.
Awatere Douglas, 23, received the Sudima Hotels and Ngāti Whakaue Education Endowment Trust Board Scholarship in its inaugural year.
He excelled throughout his placement and is now a valued member of the Sudima Lake Rotorua's team in his dual roles of hotel duty manager and group cultural ambassador.
He is now urging other members of his iwi to come forward and apply for the scholarship as it opens for it's fourth round this month.
"I can't stress enough how much this scholarship meant to me and it enabled me to pursue a great career," he said.
"It's an extremely rewarding position to be in, and there is a lot of room for career growth."
The scholarship was established in 2014 to encourage Rotorua youth like Douglas into hotel leadership roles, giving them a hand up to the industry.
However, Sudima Hotels has found only a handful of applicants are coming forward for the opportunity.
"A lot of young people don't know what they want to do when they finish school, it can be difficult to choose a career path, let alone know that scholarships like this are on offer," Douglas said.
"I want to let others in my community know that there are great opportunities out there waiting for them. This scholarship opens a lot of doors for a school leaver, providing the opportunity to fast-track a career they may have not thought possible."
The scholarship programme includes one-year of paid work experience at Sudima Lake Rotorua and a full scholarship to any New Zealand Tertiary Institute to complete a minimum degree level qualification in hotel or hospitality management.
During their studies, Sudima Hotels support the student with continued work placement and a permanent job offer on returning to Rotorua.
Sudima Hotels talent and culture director Phillipa Gimmillaro said the scholarship was created to foster careers for young Māori in the area.
"We hope more applicants will come forward this year so that we can continue to fulfil its purpose.
"It's a great initiative because it strengthens our relationship with our local iwi and students within the community, and provides career growth opportunities for our young people."
She said hiring locally was great because locals know Rotorua and its history best.
"Our employees' cultural knowledge is what makes our guest's experience all the more special."
Applications for the 2018 Ngāti Whakaue Scholarship are open until November 4 and can be submitted via the application form on Sudima Hotels' website.