Palmerston North City & Manawatu

Rhema Nantham

International Massey Finance Student Sets Sights on the World

At the age of 20, Rhema has seen more countries than most, having lived in Malaysia, the Philippines, and now residing in New Zealand. When Rhema was only seven years old her father received a job offer at the Asian Development Bank, so Malaysia was left behind and the Philippines became her home for the next 11 years.

When Rhema finished her schooling in the Philippines, she was keen to follow in her father’s footsteps and embarked upon a journey that would lead her to New Zealand. Rhema’s parents gave her two study options: study in New Zealand or study in Australia. Ultimately, the choice was easy, as her sister practiced dentistry in Levin. She boarded a plane and began the 18-hour journey to ‘the land of the long white cloud’.

Rhema applied for The University of Auckland, Victoria University in Wellington, and Massey University in Palmerston North City. She was accepted into all three, but decided to study in Palmerston North as she considered Massey to have the better business degree out of the three. She began with an economics major in mind, but after her first year, she decided upon majoring in finance, and minoring in international relations with a doctorate in mind.

In five years, Rhema hopes to have completed her doctorate. She aims to build a successful New Zealand career, into an international one, following her father to the Asian Development Bank, or even the World Bank. “I want to help people with real financial needs, instead of focusing on making more money for big business”. 


For Rhema, life in Palmerston North City is all about adventure. She was quick to point out that her adventures were of the cultural nature and not forays into the Manawatu’s native bush. She says that Palmerston North is like no other place in the country, as a well-rounded cultural centre made up of multiple peoples, views, and art forms. Rhema tries to engage with a different part of the culture every weekend and is a regular at art galleries, shows and cafés around the city. Her overarching goal is to visit every café in the city, a goal she is well on her way to achieving.