A bit about Manu:

I grew up in Tauranga on our parents small farm. My dad was a postie then social worker, and has been a small farmer and market gardener for more than 30 years. Mum was a teacher, accountant and small business owner. My whakapapa includes Irish, Tongan, Spanish and Scottish ancestry.

After leaving school I studied design for five years and completed a Bachelor of Design degree from Victoria University in Wellington. I worked in the design and advertising industry, lectured at university and eventually did secondary school teacher training through Christchurch College of Education. After a few years teaching students at risk of leaving mainstream schooling, I decided to put my time and energy into community organising and youth work where I helped establish a school for teenage parents and a childcare centre for their children, youth offending prevention services and alternative education programmes. Over the past ten years I have worked in international development on projects in Nepal, Fiji and the Philippines – and was a Board member of The Council for International Development (NZ) and worked as a short-term contractor for The World Bank in 2006.

I had a stint in the public service managing contracts for the Ministry of Social Development (Child, Youth & Family) for two years and since 2004 have been the Director of a small social research and management company I started with a business partner.

During my time on Gisborne District Council I was a member of the Community Development Committee (Deputy Chair), Environment & Policy Committee, Hearings Committee, Regional Transport Committee and Civil Defence Committee – I was appointed Chairperson of the Regional Transport Committee in 2013.

Since resigning from Council in April 2014, I continue to work as a self-employed researcher and project manager. My main work currently involves:

– supporting a project focused on two neighbourhoods in Whanganui and Gisborne. The project encourages local residents to increase social capital through building the levels of trust amongst neighbours with the intention that more caring neighbours can help reduce child abuse and neglect;

– a gang transformation initiative;

– supporting efforts to reduce the Digital Divide in Tairāwhiti;

– writing content for a national website for NGOs focused on tools for evidence building of social impact.

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You can contact me here:

Phone: 0274202957

Email: manu[at]ahi.co.nz

I’m also on Twitter if that is how you prefer to connect with me!