Whanau Stories

Gus’s story

Gus Ngapera’s Story: A parent and board of trustee perspective

May 2013

I was gunning for Manaiakalani from the beginning and jumped on it straight away. Why? Because it’s the future; it’s where our children are heading, and it’s shaped by and is shaping the society in which they’re now living.

First up, Manaiakalani reflects and responds to the needs of the current generation. The pond in which our children are swimming today is different from the pond I swam in as a kid. Our children still learn how to read, write and do maths, but they’re learning in a way that engages their passion and will enable them to operate fully in today’s digital world.

Manaiakalani was a huge financial commitment for our family. We had to buy four netbooks on a very low income. My wife and I agreed, you have to take opportunities like this when they come along because they don’t come often. We knew we’d struggle financially and we heard other parents moan, ‘Why should we have to pay?’ But we felt so grateful for the opportunity.

We sat down with our children and discussed with them the decision to invest in the programme. We talked about making sacrifices and what we would each make a sacrifice for. “We need to buy four netbooks for you guys to go to school,” we said. “What this means is that there’ll be no Christmas presents this year. Are you willing to make that sacrifice?” “Yep,” they said. “We’ll be fine.”

it’s the future;
it’s where our children are heading,
and it’s shaped by and is shaping
the society in which
they’re now living.

Right from the start Manaiakalani worked for our children but it took me a while to understand how it worked. My son’s reading ability went up phenomenally. What was he doing at the computer and what were teachers doing differently in the classroom to enable this to happen? I had to see the engagement up close to really get it. I sat in class for half a day watching my son learn. What I saw was this: the Manaiakalani Programme engages the whole class and their attention never breaks.

Finding their passion is the key. What‘s cool about Manaiakalani is that our children are so passionate about learning. They learn without knowing they’re doing it. It works because learning is fun for them and relates to the world in which they’re living; a rapidly changing world they have to navigate daily. Learning has become a lifestyle for our children; it doesn’t begin and end with school. The technology is essential; computers are part of our family and in use every day. Manaiakalani is giving our children the tools to keep up.

At board meetings you can feel the excitement when you walk into the room. We can’t wait to read the statistics; we’re on the edge of our seats. Why? We expect the results to be impressive and haven’t been disappointed yet. We’ve seen learning accelerate; our children are achieving quicker and better. There may not be huge jumps month to month, but the first report was a staggering jump in educational achievement and from there we’ve seen a steady increase.

A year later all my children are computer literate, and can access programmes and navigate the net with ease. When I was growing up I never touched a computer; technology was taboo because it cost too much. Now our children know more about computers than us.

My children also know how to read, write and spell. Some went up a couple of levels in their test scores quickly. Others needed to catch up and are now heading in the right direction. I’m still learning these things; I’m in my thirties and I only learnt to read in the last ten years. My kids at Tamaki Primary School now have the same spelling ability that I have, or close to it. My second youngest daughter recently earned a certificate for writing. She’s not part of the netbook process yet but she’s gradually being introduced to computers in class and will be expected to operate a netbook in Year Five.

Our eldest son is graduating from high school tonight and his success is huge for us. He’s the first one to graduate in my whole family and he knows where he’s headed.

I am so grateful that Manaiakalani came along for our children. If it hadn’t, who knows what might have happened; I don’t want to consider the alternative. I’m just glad I know where they are now. People need to hear my story. I want to open the hearts and minds of people to the whole necessity of Manaiakalani for our children. Put a netbook in front of any child for a month and I’ll guarantee he’ll learn something. If you excite his passion for learning, his focus will be fully focussed.

Manaiakalani is like a community garden and in return can take food to feed their families. With Manaiakalani you invest your resources and in return your children receive an education that not only builds their future but also builds your family’s and your community’s future.

This year my children will be presentless at Christmas; that’s the sacrifice our family had to make for them to participate fully in Manaiakalani. But our reward is that our children and our Tamaki schools are leaders of the Manaiakalani revolution. This programme has a marvel quality; it creates awe. I can’t stop talking about it, yet words can’t fully describe it.

In Whanau...

The Boards of Trustees’ from Manaiakalani schools combine regularly for decision-making and oversight of the implementation of the Manaiakalani programme.

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Gus’s story

Gus Ngapera’s Story:
A parent and board of trustee perspective

May 2013

I was gunning for Manaiakalani from the beginning and jumped on it straight away. Why?


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