Mani, from Tupapa, has completed a Masters Business Administration (MBA) with the University of the South Pacific in the Cook Islands.
“Age is unlimited for learning – it also helps keeps his mind ticking, thinking and active,” he said. “Your dreams are still alive, you never stop. When you stop dreaming, you’re dead.”
Mani was raised in the Cook Islands and worked at the government customs department before he left the country in 1972 for New Zealand, where he was employed in the private sector.
Returning home in 1987, he returned to the public division, engaged at the agriculture and trade labour and transport areas until the year 2000.
He believes we need to update what we already know, because of the changes to society and technology happening all around us.
Frontline customer service is a necessity he says, we have to perform, the young people need to be trained, especially with how important tourism is to our economy.
Mani was the oldest person attending his classes, but all his young classmates supported his commitment. He struggled with the finance topics, as these were areas he was not involved with in his previous jobs.
Reading the text books was a breeze, but writing was an effort; and at times listening was difficult for him in class, even while wearing his hearing aid. There was too much static, he said.
After the completion of his MBA, where to from now?
Mani has plans for development in Mauke with land he has inherited from his mother – but at present he is content to take a breather.
His wife Wendy is proud of his achievement, “even though there are textbooks scattered at every table in our home,” she laughs.
The Manis have three children – Helena, Christian and Martin – and grandchildren who all live overseas.
One grand-daughter visited from overseas, and they had serious talks with her, hoping to persuade her to continue to further her education.
And he hopes he’s now given his grandchildren an added motivation to study at