Te Aitanga a Hauiti, Tūhoe - Bachelor of Teaching in Primary Education. Intermediate school teacher.
A desire to give back to his home community motivated Manuel Wehi to studying teaching at the University of Otago.
When Manuel finished high school at the Tolaga Bay Area School on the east coast of the North Island, he knew he didn’t have the self-discipline to go straight to university.
Instead, he joined the Army and completed basic training before moving to the Burnham base near Christchurch.
Manuel says the Army gave him life skills and confidence to follow the encouragement of his Tolaga Bay teachers to undertake tertiary study.
“I decided I wanted to go to university to study as a teacher. That way I knew I could eventually go home to Tolaga Bay and contribute to my community,” he says.
The Army supported his decision and offered him a job with the Territorial Force Reserve in Dunedin so he could make the transition from life as a soldier to a full-time student.
“Coming to Otago felt so easy after the Army, and you only had to ask if you were struggling or needed help.”
After graduating Manuel got a job teaching at Tahuna Normal Intermediate School.
“It has been awesome so far, but I would be lying if I said that it wasn’t a little overwhelming. There’s so much to take in right from the beginning and I have a newfound respect for all the mahi that teachers do,” he says.
“I can definitely see how someone would struggle if they were not properly prepared for a career in teaching. So I am very grateful for my uni studies – especially for the preparation I got on placements – and also for the time that lecturers spent with me to get me where I needed to be. They prepared me for my first year of teaching.”