From hippie commune, to prestigious political university in France



Former Whitianga man Manaia Matafeo was selected to study in France.


Former Whitianga man Manaia Matafeo was selected to study in France.

In the crowd of anti-drilling and anti-oil protests in Coromandel was a young Manaia Matafeo.

He was introduced to the protests from a young age and believes these early memories led him to pursue studies in politics.

The former Whitianga man was selected to study at one of the best political universities in the world – Sciences Po, in Reims, France.

The school was founded in 1872 to promote a new class of French politicians and has since trained seven of the last eight French presidents.

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Current French President Emmanuel Macron attended Sciences Po.

Leon Neal / GETTY

Current French President Emmanuel Macron attended Sciences Po.

“My parents always insisted on the importance of getting involved in politics and the things that affect us.

“Seeing people so passionate about something that they were willing to fight for it, showed me that the issues were important and that without these people out there to express their passion and move a movement forward, you wouldn’t. ‘never go anywhere. “

But 19-year-old Matafeo has no interest in running a country. It is grassroots governance that really motivates him.

“I don’t know if the current system is something that really serves everyone in the best possible way, and I don’t know if becoming a politician would help anyone in any way,” he said. .

“I’m more interested in working at the community level because that’s where I think you can make the most change.”

For the first three years of his life, Matafeo lived in Wilderland, a farm in the Coromandel countryside.

As a high school student, he studied abroad at a United World College in Armenia, where he got a taste for creating change at the community level.

“Part of our program was to create community projects, like a women’s football club, an afternoon with disabled children and English lessons.

“This stuff was really cool for me because it was so face to face, and I could really connect with people, and when you connect with people, you can see that you are helping them,” a- he declared.

Closer to home, Matafeo said New Zealand could do much better with issues like inequality and poverty.

“I think we can create a society where everyone is taken care of.

“Armenia is a third world country. We stayed in a small town with poverty everywhere – on a different level from New Zealand – but even here we should hold ourselves to a high standard in regards to that sort of thing.

“Children who go to school hungry and without proper clothes … people who live in damp and cold houses, those kinds of things that we have to work on,” he said.

Matafeo estimated his living and studying expenses in French at at least $ 33,260 per year for three years.

He said studying at Sciences Po depended on how much money he could raise.

“I have devoted most of my life so far to doing my best academically, and it has been unforgettable… so it would be cool for people to invest in someone who will gain knowledge. world class and come back and use it in our country and use it for good. “

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