An outstanding academic student who gained both NCEA Levels 1 and 2 with Excellence endorsed, this young woman's achievements reflect not only her academic talent, but also her drive to achieve. Russell Watson of Northpower said "Manaia's academic achievements and her desire to continue her studies at University, coupled with a positive attitude and good work ethic were standout."
Manaia is the second eldest of four children and lives with her siblings, sister-in-law and Mother in Whangarei. This well-spoken and confident girl carries with herself with Mana and a rich sense of her Maori heritage wherever she goes. Combined with a passion for languages, this love for her culture has driven her to learn to speak te reo Maori fluently. She is also learnt Spanish. Kapa Haka, head prefect duties, a part time after school job and voluntary work at community festivals are just a few of the things Manaia balanced with her commitment to schoolwork.
In his speech about Manaia Russell Watson went on to say "however what made Manaia really standout for me was her strong desire to help others and contribute to society."
Manaia graduated from The University of Waikato with a Bachelor of Arts with a double major in Te Reo Māori and Māori Media and Communication (maintaining an A-avaerage) and is in her final year of a Graduate Diploma in Primary School Teaching. She is a receipient of a Teach First NZ Kupe Scholarship, which is awarded to Maori High Achievers.