Naomi Manu (Rangitāne, Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Raukawa ki te Tonga) has led New Zealand’s efforts to encourage Māori students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
Ms Manu worked in the tertiary sector, founding Pūhoro STEM(M) Academy (Pūhoro) in 2015 while working at Massey University. Pūhoro provides mentorship and support to Māori students interested in STEM subjects. Under her leadership, Pūhoro has encouraged greater Māori participation in the science and innovation sectors, inspiring thousands of young people to pursue careers in STEM. The academy provides career networks of role models and mentors to students, promoting an intergenerational shift in the career choices of rangatahi, to create a more diverse and inclusive scientific community in New Zealand. She was Director of Māori Student Success at Massey University for two years.
In 2022 she co-founded the Auraki Group Limited, an organisation which encourages Māori participation in STEM careers through its six-month Poipoia Data Apprenticeship programme, designed to build data analytics capability within the workforce in line with tirohanga Māori. She was recently appointed as a Director of Te Taumata and has advocated for increased Māori representation in global trade and commerce on a national and international scale. Ms Manu has been recognised with several national and international awards, including her appointment as an Obama Foundation Leader for the Asia-Pacific region in 2023.