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Many roles keep EIT Tairāwhiti Tutor busy

November 19, 2021

EIT Tairāwhiti Bachelor of Business Tutor Isaac Hughes is enjoying his role as a Gisborne District Councillor.

Isaac Hughes has packed a lot into his 28 years – he is an EIT Tairāwhiti Bachelor of Business Studies Tutor, the youngest Gisborne District Councillor and a qualified chartered accountant.

That is only part of it for Isaac, who was raised and home-schooled on the East Coast at Tokomaru Bay. He is conversant in te reo Māori, is a part-owner in a small gym across the road from EIT Tairāwhiti in Palmerston Road and is also involved in charities and sports.

Isaac works part-time at EIT, tutoring a Business course, but he has always been interested in local government politics.

“I always wanted to get involved in council, and people often told me I should stand for council, but the timing has never been right.”

That all changed when an incumbent Gisborne District councillor resigned and a by-election for the seat was called. It was Isaac’s chance to enter local politics.

He stood and won, garnering 32 per cent of the vote and was 1314 votes ahead of his nearest rival.

The election to council meant some adjustments to his life and he acknowledges EIT’s flexibility in allowing him to adjust teaching times.

“They changed the timetable so it can fit with council. I love working with the students.”

Isaac sees his teaching role as more than a job.

“For me it is about giving back. The industry needs that because there is a real shortage of accountants coming through,” says Isaac.

“I enjoy seeing the students achieve and keeping them engaged.”

As Gisborne District Council’s youngest ever councillor, Isaac also gives his new role a lot of attention, with many agendas to read in the evenings.

“But I do like it. It is definitely the highest pressure work I do for the money paid. The hardest thing is trying to see a direct positive result for the decisions we are making. I ask myself, am I delivering? What have I achieved? “

One thing is certain, it is a long way from when he first enrolled in the Bachelor of Business Studies, majoring in Accounting, at EIT Tairāwhiti in 2012. He graduated in 2015 and became a Chartered Accountant last year.

During his time at EIT, he also worked part-time at the local Pak’n’Save and has also worked part-time for accounting firm Coates Associates .

In 2014 and 2015 he was chairman of the GDC Youth Council but pulled out because he became too busy with his work, study and other interests.

For the 2019 local body elections, he considered standing but there was already a youth candidate, and he had a masterplan to travel. He had changed jobs to work for BDO because that accounting business had links to international possibilities.

By 2020, Isaac was working as an auditor for BDO with travel on his mind, but then the COVID-19  pandemic struck.

“That changed everything. I was working in audit and while I enjoyed it, I was mostly there because there is a shortage.”

“There was not much opportunity to advance, and my plan had been taken out of my hands.”

A new plan was formed and now he is a councillor with about a year’s experience behind him.

“I have never looked back … I worked for the rest of the year at BDO, and this year have got about five different jobs on the side. I am busy but really enjoying it.”

Busy seems to be an understatement, as apart from being a councillor, tutoring at EIT and charitable work, he is also involved in local cricket and rugby.

He also finds the time to play the piano and earlier this year could be found practicing his dance moves after agreeing to take part in the charitable Dancing for Life to raise money for the Life Education Trust.

Recently, he also performed as Detective Sergeant Trotter, in a local production of the Agatha Christie murder mystery The Mousetrap.

“I have got a lot going on this year … but I am really enjoying all of it.”