Prayer, picking berries and family support led to law degree and admittance to High Court.

Prayer, determination and five years of picking berries led young Tongan barrister Eleanor Manu to graduate from the University of Waikato earlier this month and to be admitted to the High Court of New Zealand.

Lawyer Eleanor Manu

Manu graduated with a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) and a BA in Social Science, majoring in Political Science.

Elleanor began by studying Health Sciences at Auckland University, but did not do well in her first year.

However, she had passed a law paper and after praying, decided this was what she was meant to do.

She decided to enrol in law, but because she had done badly in her Health Science course, she was not eligible for any financial support and was faced with having to find $6000 for her first year’s fees.

After a lot of thought and prayer, she suggested to her parents that she could raise the money by going fruit picking.

Her mother Nanuma was hesitant because this was what she and her husband Vili had done when they first came to New Zealand and she remembered how back breaking the work was.

However, she found her daughter a place on a strawberry farm in Morrinsville, Hamilton.

The whole family joined her and spent three months picking.

“We started with strawberries for the first month, crawling from 4am to 4pm,” Nanuma said.

“As much as I didn’t want my daughter going through the agony of what I worked for when I first came to New Zealand, I was encouraged by her motivation and determination to strive for success.

“For three long months picking and packing strawberries, we finally managed to make enough to fund Noa’s first year of her Law degree and also were able to pay for my other five children’s educational studies.

In 2010 Elleanor enrolled in her first year of law at Auckland University. Later she decided to transfer from Auckland University to Waikato University’s Law School as a means to keep funding her studies through berry picking.

Nanuma said that for five years the family used berry picking as the main income to fund Elleanor’s education and that of her five younger children.

“We have done this as a family annually and it has been a blessing in disguise for me seeing the hand of God move in our life.

“The last and final picking season was just before Elleanor’s admission to the High Courts.

“I think it’s safe to say that Noa finally achieved what she set out to do and we can only hope that she will leave a long lasting impression that God is a God of possibility.”

Dr Mo’ale ‘Otunuku, who advised the family on Elleanor’s studies, said her success was the result of talking to her parents about her ambitions and their support for her.

“Students should get assistance from parents in the same way they get assistance from teachers,” Dr ‘Otunuku said.

“The parents must know their responsibility and do the best they can do to assist their children’s studies.

“The children should agree with their parents of what field of education they should pursue and make sure it is within the child’s capability.

“Some parents want their children to become a lawyer, but the children do not have any interest in law.

“Sometimes children choose their subjects just because their peers are doing them, but these courses are beyond their capabilities.”

The main points

  • Prayer, determination and five years of picking berries led young Tongan barrister Elleanor Manu to graduate from the University of Waikato earlier this month and to be admitted to the High Court of New Zealand.
  • Manu graduated with a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) and a BA in Social Science, majoring in Political Science.
  • Because she had failed her earlier course in Health Science she had to fund her law studies and with the help of her family, paid her way through university by picking berries.
  • The last and final picking season was just before her admission to the High Court.

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