Key Points:

When Steve Murray moved from heading Tainui Group Holdings to running New Zealand's largest IT company, EDS, he looked around and didn't see many Maori in his new workplace.

So he's done something about it, setting up a scholarship programme within the company. The plan was for one post-graduate and four undergraduate scholarships but, on launch day, Maori Affairs Minister Parekura Horomia gave matching funding, doubling the places on offer.

The programme is administered through the Maori Education Trust, which has been using bits of private and public funding to put Maori through secondary and tertiary schooling since 1961.

"We take a holistic view of scholarships, so it's not just financial but mentoring and paid holiday work, so that at the end we get well-rounded, talented individuals," Murray says.

Ideally, the scholarship recipients will end up in EDS's large graduate programme.

Murray says they'll be looking for a mix of students doing computer science and technical subjects, business, finance and management.

"The term IT can be misleading. There is a broad spectrum of capability and competence we will be looking for and can put to work in EDS, being a global entity. [From] cutting code to managing accounts to finance to business acumen, adding value where organisations feel they don't have core competence.

"There's also the strategic end of the value chain, doing a lot more consulting work."

Murray says finding holiday work and mentors for the five extra people brought in through the minister's generosity isn't a big ask.

"It's a matter of leveraging [our] internal capability and skills," he says.

"Once we know who we have, we will look at their strengths and requirements, and match the appropriate mentor to the individual, so both of us and the scholarship recipients get the best bang for the buck."

The IT marketplace is global but there are some people missing.

"We are saying there is a valuable talent pool, a burgeoning (Maori) demographic that is coming through in New Zealand and we want to ... be a catalyst to drive that demographic into the IT sector."

With almost 20 per cent of Year One to 12 students now being Maori, it's potentially a large group.

There is also a growing Maori corporate sector of post-settlement organisations such as Tainui and Ngai Tahu and of the now well-established land-based trusts who need quality staff.

"If we can play a part where we capture some of these graduates, provide them with global expertise in a multinational and then they go back and seed themselves in ... iwi entities, that has to be a positive thing for New Zealand Incorporated," Murray says.

"I was fortunate to work in a bunch of multinationals ... and I was able to bring that expertise to TGH."

Trust chief executive Doug Hauraki says the scholarship programme is a good example of the value the trust can bring to other organisations which want to engage with Maori.

"We deal with up to 2000 students a year in terms of ... applications, but we are also able to get flow-on effects to other students," Hauraki says.

The trust has funds built up over the years from its original endowments and provides a similar service to organisations such as the Public Trust and Guardian Trust, and administers estates that specify the money be used for education of Maori.

"We administer about 80 scholarships programmes where the people who donate the funds have determined the criteria," Hauraki says.#He believes the EDS scholarships will fit well with some of the trust's other offerings.

"The good thing is these students will go and work in the EDS offices, so when they graduate from university or polytechnic or wananga they will have something solid on their CV.

"We've tended to focus on agribusiness, because if someone gets qualified, Fonterra has 20,000 jobs worldwide, so ... graduates can get their OE paid for. Now they may be able to do the same thing with EDS."

Karaitana Taiuru, of the Maori Internet Society, says young Maori are starting to show more interest in technology-related careers but seeing other Maori succeeding in the area will encourage others.

"We're seeing an increase because of social networking sites like Bebo and Facebook. Kids become users and say 'This is cool, I want to do this for a living when I get older,"' Taiuru says.

Consultant Ross Himona, who maintains a Maori-focused website, says those working in the sector can be invisible "as it's all just business".