Naomi Manu (Rangitāne, Ngāti Kahungunu) is the Director of Pūhoro STEM Academy at Massey University in New Zealand. She shares her passion for Māori development and her study and career pathway with us below.
I am very values driven and passionate about Māori development, so every job I have had seeks to advance outcomes for Māori. Throughout my career I have been very fortunate to work with incredible people who have helped shape and influence my world view and therefore my work. This has led me through roles in the public sector, to consulting with Kahui Tautoko, and finally to establishing the Pūhoro STEM Academy at Massey University. This academy is dedicated to improving Māori participation and success in STEM.
I didn’t grow up exposed to te ao Māori (the Māori world) and it was not until my teenage years that I began to yearn to learn more about who I was and what my place in the world was. We have a Māori term, tūrangawaewae which, literally translated means ‘a place to stand’. It was not until I understood more about my noble heritage that I began to feel a greater sense of belonging; more anchored and comfortable in my skin.
The work I do helps me keep these ties strong, and gives me a place from which to encourage other young Māori to fall in love with who they are. It inspires me to provide opportunities for young Māori to prepare for participation in society, and to claim their right to fully participate in te ao Māori.
If there is a piece of advice I can pass along, it is to remember that you are descended from experts who had a superior understanding of the world around them. I would encourage you to learn about your people’s knowledge systems. This is your birth right and will open up a world of opportunity for you.
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Naomi’s study and career path to becoming the director of Pūhoro STEM Academy
- Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Māori studies, Victoria University
- 2000-2013: Multiple public sector roles in workforce development, health, language revitalisation policy, and education
- 2013-2015: Kahui Tautoko Consulting Limited
- 2015: Established the Pūhoro STEM Academy at Massey University
Author: Heather Catchpole
Heather co-founded Careers with STEM publisher Refraction Media. She loves storytelling, Asian food & dogs and has reported on science stories from live volcanoes and fossil digs