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Passion for organics takes Eady from the farm to tertiary study

Eady Manawaiti takes his passion for science from his Te Kuiti farm to tertiary study at Wintec
Eady Manawaiti has a goal - to educate rangatahi (youth) about science and organic farming. 

Eady Manawaiti (Ngāti Rōrā, Ngāti Maniapoto) is passionate about his Te Kuiti farm. He wants to pass on his knowledge about organic farming and soil remediation to future generations. This passion has given him the push he needed to begin studying Applied Science at Wintec as an adult.  

A father and a grandfather, Manawaiti, 47, has made a commitment to navigating the world of education as an adult learner to fulfil his goal, to educate people about organic farming, all while juggling family responsibilities, farming and running a business. 

“I want to share my knowledge of science to all students, starting at kōhanga reo; to develop a fun science programme that encourages them to learn about natural science, starting with photosynthesis.  

“By starting at kohanga reo level, that natural flow of teaching science will generate curiosity, and then my hopes are that curiosity will be developed at tertiary level.  In my legacy, that education starts here right on my farm in Te Kuiti.” 

Starting that legacy just before lockdown proved to be an education all on its own, as Manawaiti encountered more challenges than the ordinary student as he also had to run his rubbish truck business. 

“I own a rubbish truck, so I was an essential worker over lockdown. From March to July, I completed my coursework in the cab of my rubbish truck, listening to lectures on my phone. I even did an oral presentation to the microbiology class on the side of Mangaharakeke Road in my truck!” 

Manawaiti is clear however that he never used his job as an excuse. It’s just part of what makes his journey a bit more challenging than most other students. 

His attitude and dynamism that has prevailed through a tough year has not gone unnoticed by his peers and teachers. Manawaiti was a joint recipient of the Māori and Pasifika award at Wintec’s 2020 Adult Learner Awards . The Awards recognise the enthusiasm and determination of Wintec’s adult learners. 

“I have no academic background. I remember my form teacher proclaiming in front our class one day ‘You’ll be a nobody Manawaiti. A nobody!’” 

“But I went on to play professional rugby overseas for years, run a business and now I’m studying.” 

After passing his Level 3 Certificate papers with flying colours, where Manawaiti “got A grades for the first time in his life,” he decided to step up and complete a Bachelor of Technology in Environment Science Diploma.  

“Going from Level 3 to Level 5 with no previous science knowledge is hard. It’s a struggle academically. The first year as an adult learner, you’re learning how to learn again. I’m still going through that – learning the academic vocabulary, understanding the scientific method.” 

It’s no surprise that Manawaiti shows such passion for knowledge. His nana, Petiwaea Manawaiti, was a pioneering figure at the former Waikato Polytechnic (now Wintec), and a fierce advocate for Māori education. 

“There’s a footprint. My nan helped create the first Māori tertiary programme at Wintec with the Te Ataarangi programme. My two aunties Ringiringi and Okeroa then continued that legacy. 

“I used to come here [Wintec] as a kid and hang around waiting for nan. My nan and aunties are without a doubt, the inspiration that keeps me doing what I’m doing. They were formidable, and pioneers in every sense of the word.” 

Eady stands next to the image of his nana Petiwaea Manawaiti at Te Kōpū Mānia o Kirikiriroa
Eady stands proudly next to a photo of his nana Petiwaea Manawaiti (right) at Te Kōpū Mānia o Kirikiriroa Marae at Wintec. The other photos are of Werewere Maaka, (left) and Dr Hare Puke (above, centre).

With science projects happening both inside the classroom and outside at his farm in Te Kuiti, and a busy rubbish truck business, he’s not ready to stop. 

His soil carbon farming soil sequestration project with the Pātaka Institute for farmers involves adapting and experimenting with research on top-soil biology with an end goal to create a more sustainable farming future.  

“We’re trying to remediate the soil, to bring the soil back to its original healthy state through carbon cover cropping.  

“It removes the need for fertilisers, which will in time, reduce the amount of nitrogen that runs off into our awa.” 

It’s this focus on the future that keeps Manawaiti hopeful.  His main desire in learning is to pass on that knowledge to a future generation of Māori learners. 

“Teaching is part of my family’s DNA. I’m inspired to carry that on through my passion for science.” 

Find out more about studying Applied Science at Wintec. 

Read more: 

Fijian arboriculture student branches out from the stage to the treetops 
What happened when Tony went back to class 
Challenges no obstacle for eight Wintec Adult Learner Award winners 

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