Ministry for Pacific Peoples — Manurewa High School students inspire with YES success   Manurewa High School students inspire with YES success   Skip to content

Manurewa High School students inspire with YES success  

Manurewa High School students inspire with YES success  

  • 14 Nov 2022
thumbnail Image 2

(Picture caption: The MoonWood Canvas crew had YES success at the Regional Awards.) 

Resilience and the work-life balancing act have been the greatest learnings for Manurewa High School student Leonada Manu’atu, while taking part in the 2022 Young Enterprise Scheme.

Leonada, 18, who hails from Tonga and was raised in New Zealand, helped lead her peers Selina Helg, Luseane Langoia, and Taeao Pomale-Time to YES success at the recent Regional Awards, with their company MoonWood Canvas. 

The company, which produces canvas frames, carved with both Pacific and Māori cultural designs, collected the Company Spirit Award along with first place South Auckland Company of the Year. 

Leonada explains the original concept for the company’s product was to use recycled wood however this changed during development due to the quality of the wood needed for the canvases.

“This was one of the many challenges we faced throughout the year,” Leonada says.

“Our journey had its fair share of ups and downs,” she adds.

“There were a lot of late nights prepping our pitch and PowerPoint for regionals.

“I rewrote our script about three or four times as it was either too long or did not have all the information required in the marking sheet.

“A lot of hard work went into practicing in front of different teachers and students… we definitely had the support of our school as we went into bat at the regionals.”  

Contesting the annual YES competition was compulsory for Manurewa High School Year 13 Business students, and it has proved to be very worthwhile, Leonada says. 

“Our biggest lesson has been learning resilience, especially when it came to finishing all our pre-orders and completing all five YES challenges, while juggling school assessments and life outside of school.”  

The MoonWood Canvas team hope their product inspires other Pacific students to put their creativity and cultural knowledge to use in the business world, as these things are truly invaluable, Leonada says.

“We hope other businesses take this chance to showcase their culture more often within modern item and to encourage to keep the culture alive.”

All eyes are now on the YES finals, taking place in Wellington on December 6, 2022 where the regional winners will go up against each other, showcasing their amazing products and services.

Next year, MoonWood Canvas will stay in good hands, with Leonada and the team passing it onto the next generation of Manurewa High School students, so they can make it their own.

Congratulations to MoonWood Canvas and the 66 other Pacific teams from secondary schools around New Zealand Aotearoa who took place in the 2022 YES contest.

Visit the Young Enterprise Scheme website for more information.