Scholarship recognises a lifetime of service

Scholarship recognises a lifetime of service

Moetu Tuuta is the recent recipient of the Janice Manson Memorial scholarship at NMIT.
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Moetu Tuuta

For almost 25 years, Moetu Tuuta has served his iwi and community with pride. He is honoured to be recognised with the Janice Manson Memorial scholarship for 2024.   

Moetu’s whakapapa (geneology) connects him to Taranaki through Ngāti Mutunga and to Te Tauihu o te Waka a Maui (top of the South Island) through Ngāti Rarua, Te Ati Awa, and Ngāti Tama iwi. It was his colleagues in the Ngāti Tama office who encouraged him to apply for the scholarship, which is awarded in partnership with Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology (NMIT). The scholarship is named in honour of Janice Manson, who was a prominent Iwi leader within Te Tauihu and served as a Māori advocate on the academic council of NMIT. NMIT acknowledges the impact her leadership had on the institute and commit to memorialising her contribution. 

A respected stalwart of the local community, Moetu has sat on various boards and committees over the years, including those overseeing Ngāti Tama marae affairs, the local museum, and environmental issues. His current mahi includes being an iwi monitor, which involves checking development sites for taonga or items of significance for Māori.  

“My iwi is my driving force,” he says. “If I have the resources to do it, I want to help. In the past there wasn’t much putea (money) but we tried to get strategies in place to help with revitalization and protection.” 

Moetu is currently studying te reo Level 1 and Level 2 at NMIT. 

“I left school at 15 in 1972 and I never had the introduction to te reo. But I’m learning it now,” he says. It’s been the best decision. It will be something I'll keep doing for the rest of my life. I'm always learning.” 

Moetu says NMIT is more than just a place to study. 

"It’s like having another family. I enjoy the kaiako (teachers) – they explain things well, they welcome everyone and make sure everyone is respecting each other. I’ve got to know my classmates really well. We have fun together.” 

Not one to simply attend class, Moetu has become a big part of the wider whānau at Te Toki Pakohe (the Māori learning centre at NMIT). He usually comes in well before class to help the team to set up for class.  

“It’s also about helping the others. I do whatever I can,” he says. “I’m a morning person so I get up early on kura days. I like to get everything ready.” 

Soraya Paki Paki, NMIT Curriculum Area Manager said the kaiako (teachers) and ākonga (learners) feel lucky to have Moetu studying with them in Te Toki Pakohe.  

“He adds a very special presence and helps keep our whare warm,” she said. 

His fellow ākonga also enjoy having Moetu in class, saying he is “knowledgeable, warm, wise, and passionate about his reo,” and “He ngākau māhaki ia (he is humble).” 

Receiving the scholarship was a humbling experience for Moetu.  

“I’m not one to be in the limelight, I try to stay out of it really. I was a bit overwhelmed! Everyone came from the Ngāti Tama office and took pictures. I'm a bit whakama (shy). I was glad I didn’t have to do a speech!” 


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