Maori Boy Genius takes study break

TRACEY CHATTERTON
HAWKE'S BAY REPORTER
Last updated 05:00 30/10/2012
Maori Boy Genius
pietra@pbk.co.nz

The star of documentary Maori Boy Genius, Ngaa Rauuira Pumanawawhiti, performing Kapa Haka.

Maori Boy Genius
Modest genius: Ngaa Rauuira Pumanawawhiti shrugs off the notion that he is anything other than an accelerated learner.

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When Ngaa Rauuira Pumanawawhiti enrolled at Victoria University, the 18-year-old was signing up for his sixth year of tertiary study.

But the star of Maori Boy Genius, who attended prestigious Yale University, soon found it wasn't easy being a genius.

When the law and political assignments started piling up and film commitments increased, he decided he needed a break and put his studies on hold.

''I needed a break from the intensity of study. I am still very young and want to experience more of life besides study.''

Mr Pumanawawhiti is dedicating his time to promoting the Maori Boy Genius documentary - which screened on Maori TV - and making the most of the travel opportunities.

He is currently in Norway presenting the film to the Sami parliament, the indigenous people of northern Scandinavia.

Besides his public commitments for the film, he has been working part-time for his mother's business and visiting marae and schools, promoting higher education for young people.

With a string of achievements and accolades, he is an inspiration to many.

Last year he balanced head prefect duties at TKKM O Ngati Kahungunu Ki Heretaunga with kapa haka, a bachelor in Maori studies and filming.

But the young man, who appears wise beyond his years, struggles with being labelled a genius.

''A kumara does not speak of how sweet he or she is in humility,'' he says, summing up life in the spotlight.

The documentary follows him around Yale at the age of 16, telling the story of a young Hastings boy who grew up speaking te reo Maori and performing kapa haka; a boy who googled international politics at 14 and came up with Yale University.

It also reveals the strong whanau support and willpower that raised $75,000 to get him into two summer programmes at Yale.

Mr Pumanawawhiti sees the film as a snapshot of his life, rather than a chance blow his own trumpet.

''I do not see myself as a genius, but rather as an accelerated learner. It's hard to live with the label at times because the real geniuses are out there somewhere doing really amazing things and may not be getting the recognition they deserve.''

His plans are still unclear. He is likely to return to Victoria but has not ruled out a return to Yale.

Contact Tracey Chatterton
Hawke's Bay reporter
Email: tracey.chatterton@dompost.co.nz
Twitter: @trackchatt

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- The Dominion Post

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