Naomi Manu , Naomi Manu

Rangitāne ki Wairarapa, Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairoa

Kaitohu o Pūhoro

Director of Pūhoro Stem Academy

Close-up of Naomi Manu

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Ko te ruku tika atu ki ngā wero ehara i te mea hōu ki a Naomi Manu. E whā wiki i muri i tana tīmata ki Te Kunenga ki Pūrehuroa i te tau 2015, i tono ia i te whakaaro mō STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) mō ngā tauira kura tuarua Māori.

"Mai rā anō taku kaingākau ki te mātauranga STEM, ā, e tino kaingākau nei ahau ki te whakaaro me whai rautaki mātau ki te whakawhanake tonu mō ā tātau rangatahi Māori, nō reira i whakaaro ahau kei Te Kunenga ki Pūrehuroa ahau, he rauemi wā mātau hei tautoko i te rāngai kura tuarua hei whakawhanake i tērā huarahi, ā, i tīmata mātau i kō”.

E toru tau ka pahure, ko te kaupapa nō te Manawatū te kaupapa STEM iwi taketake aroā katoa o te ao. Kua horapa a Pūhoro ki Horowhenua, Te Waiariki, Te Tonga o Tāmaki hoki, ā, e 430 ngā tauira mai i ngā tau 11 ki te 13 – ā, e huri ana ō rātau ao.

"Ko te ahuareka e 75% ngā rangatahi kāore i te whai i tētahi huarahi mātauranga i mua i te hono mai ki tēnei kaupapa – nō reira ehara i te mea kua whai wāhi anake rātau ki tētahi huarahi mātauranga, heoi kei te tūwhiti rātau i ngā kawatau mō ō rātau āheinga.”

Mā te whakaako i ia wiki, mā ngā wānanga i te Kura Pūtaiao o Te Kunenga ki Pūrehuroa, me te whai wāhi ki ngā kaipūtaiao, kua tino puta ngā hua.

Ko ngā hua NCEA i taurite ana, e pai ake ana rānei i tērā o te hunga ehara i te Māori, i tino tīni nei te ahunga o ngā oranga o ngā tauira.

“Hei tauira, ko tētahi kōtiro kāore i paku mōhio mō tana kaingākau ki te taiao, me te kaitiakitanga mai i te tirohanga kaupapa Māori. Kāore ia i mōhio mō ēnei kaingākau i mua i a Pūhoro, ā, ināianei e hiahia ana ia ki te whai i tētahi tohu pūtaiao taiao. Koirā ā mātau mahi, ko tā mātau he whakapōraru i ō rātau oranga kia hua ko te pai – kaua mō rātau anake engari mō ō rātau whānau, te rāngai me ō rātau iwi.”

Ko te angitū nei ka haere tahi me te whakaongaonga.

“He pōuri hoki kia kite, nā te mea ki te āta whakaaro e 430 anake ngā tauira Māori kua whai huarahi hōu, me uaua e kore ai e pohewa i ngā rangatahi katoa kāore i te whai i tētahi huarahi mātauranga.”

Nā te angitū o te kaupapa i tēnei rangi, me uaua ka pohewa i te uaua o te whakatahuri i te tangata ki te kaupapa a Ms Manu.

“He nui ngā tāngata kua kī mai ‘ehara tērā i ā mātau mahi i konei Naomi’, ā, he nui hoki te whakahē i te ikeike o te mahi, heoi nā ēnei mea i nui kē atu ai taku hiahia ki tēnei whāinga. I whakaaro ahau i taea e au te tuku huarahi hōu ki ngā rangatahi. He nui rawa atu ngā tūtukitanga waewae.”

Mā te whai wāhi o ngā tāngata tika, me te whai tautoko i a Our Land and Water National Science Challenge me Te Puni Kōkiri i tino whai hua ai te kaupapa. Ko te pūtea he raru tonu, ā, kāore anō a Pūhoro kia tautokona katoatia ā-pūtea.

“Ka whakatahuri mātau i ngā tāngata e rua ngā wā i te wiki nā te mea kāore i a mātau te pūtea hei tautoko.”

Ko te aro a Ms Manu ko te whakatipu i a Pūhoro.

“Mehemea ka taea e mātau te whakarerekē i te ao o tētahi Māori taiohi me te tuku huarahi kē atu ki ngā rangatahi Māori, ki a au nei he tika me mātua whai mātau ki te tuari, ā, me āhei hoki tā rātau toro mai.”

Tackling challenges head on is nothing new for Naomi Manu. Just four weeks after joining Massey in 2015, she pitched the idea of a STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) academy for Māori secondary school students.

"I had always been passionate about STEM education and very passionate about the fact that we need a deliberate strategy around how we improve that for our rangatahi Māori, so I figured I’m at Massey, we have resources that can support the secondary sector to improve that pipeline and we just built it from there."

Three years later, the Manawatū-based programme is the most comprehensive indigenous STEM programme in the world. Pūhoro has spread to Horowhenua, Bay of Plenty and South Auckland with 430 students across years 11 to 13 – and it is changing lives.

"What's so wonderful is that 75 per cent of our rangatahi before this programme were not on an academic pathway – so not only have we got them on an academic pathway, but they are exceeding expectations around their capability."

Through weekly tutoring, intensive workshops with Massey’s College of Science and exposure to scientists, the results have been remarkable.
Pūhoro has seen NCEA pass rates that equal or exceed non-Māori rates, completely changing the trajectory of students' lives.

“For example, we’ve got one girl who had no idea how passionate she was about the environment and from a kaupapa Māori perspective around kaitiakitanga. She didn’t know anything about that before Pūhoro and now she is going to do an environmental science degree. What we’re doing right here and now is going to disrupt their lives in a really positive way – not just for them but their families and eventually across the sector and their iwi.”

Such success, though, comes with poignancy.

“It’s also really sad, because when you think we only have 430 students that we’ve changed the academic trajectory for, you can't help but imagine all the other rangatahi that are on non-academic pathways that should be.”

From the programme’s triumphs today, it’s hard to imagine how difficult it was to get people to buy into Ms Manu’s vision.

“I had all sorts of people say ‘that’s not how we do things around here Naomi’ and a lot of negativity around how lofty it was, but at the same time things like that only made me want to push it more. I just really felt that this could provide so many opportunities for our young people. There were heaps and heaps of knockbacks.”

Having the right people involved, and getting sponsorship from Our Land and Water National Science Challenge and Te Puni Kōkiri were key to getting the programme off the ground. Funding is still a problem, though, and Pūhoro is not yet financially sustainable.

“We turn people away twice a week because we just can’t afford to have more people in."

Ms Manu's focus now is on getting Pūhoro to grow.

“If we’ve got something that could make a difference for young Māori and provide more opportunities for young Māori I think we have an ethical obligation to share that and ensure that as many as possible can access it.”