Danni Thian (Ngāi Tahu), the recipient of the 2014 Agria-Hōaka scholarship, will travel to Beijing in February to spend 12 months studying Mandarin at Tsinghua University. It’s an opportunity she feels fortunate to have.
“It’s all surreal,” says Danni, 24, who works as a commercial operations, labour market, and welfare analyst at the Treasury in Wellington.
Danni graduated from the University of Otago with a Bachelor of Commerce with Honours (First Class), majoring in Economics. In 2009, she accepted an internship at Ngāi Tahu Holdings as a Matakahi cadet, and completed Aoraki Bound the following year.
Danni is also an accomplished synchronised swimmer.
What constitutes a good day?
A sleep in, followed by a great coffee and book in the sun.
One thing you could not live without?
Sugar – I eat at least a bag or two of lollies a week.
Who or what inspires you and why?
It has to be parents. I am still amazed by how much people with kids have to do and how they have the energy for it. I can barely keep myself organised and on track, let alone be solely responsible for anyone else. It’s quite amazing.
Highlight in the last year and why?
It has to be receiving the Agria-Hōaka scholarship, even though I am yet to actually venture to China. It offers a once in a lifetime experience to fully immerse myself into Chinese culture whilst also furthering my education.
What is your greatest extravagance?
Coffee. I end up purchasing far too many over the course of a week (I should just learn to like instant).
Favourite way to chill out? Favourite place?
I find walking along Oriental Parade in the evening a great way to relax, although not so much when the gale force winds are out!
Dance or wallflower?
I was nicknamed ‘Decibel Danni’ as a child due to the noise I would create. That probably gives you a good idea…
What food could you not live without?
What meal do you cook the most?
Green Thai curry with tofu. (I was vegetarian for four years).
My team won a gold medal at the Oceania champs for synchronised swimming in 2004.
Do you have an aspiration for Ngāi Tahu to achieve by 2025?
This is definitely the hardest question to answer. At this moment, I can’t think of a specific aspiration per se –. I think it would just be to continue offering the broad range of opportunities for Ngāi Tahu whānau to develop through culture and education. I have always really appreciated the opportunities I have received in the past.