Ngā Manu Kōrero Speech Competition

On Friday 16 June, myself and Amelia Moke (Year 10) competed in the Ngā Manu Kōrero Speech Competition. This was an amazing opportunity for us to share our voices on topics we feel passionate about.

We competed against other rangatahi Māori or Māori students from years 9-13 at high schools across Auckland. I competed in the Korimako division – Senior English, which involved giving an eight-minute prepared speech and a three-minute impromptu speech with only five minutes of preparation. Amelia competed in the Te Rāwhiti Ihaka division – junior Māori, which involved giving a 10-minute prepared speech.

My prepared speech topic was ‘I am unapologetically Māori’ and my impromptu topic was ‘I now learn solely through technology’. Amelia’s speech topic was on climate change and global warming. I was beyond proud of both of our efforts, especially considering how public speaking can be quite daunting at times. I was very humbled to have won Best Impromptu Speech, Best Female Speaker, and to have placed 2nd overall in my division. We were all also very proud of Amelia who placed 5th overall in her division.

On the day of the competition, it was great to have support from friends and other WGHS kapa haka or te reo Māori class students who came along to watch. For me, Manu Kōrero has always been an opportunity to speak in front of my peers, whānau, and fellow rangatahi.  I feel privileged to participate in a kaupapa that celebrates young orators, and that fosters a safe, friendly, and competitive environment. Each year I get to speak on a topic that is important to me, which is something I appreciate. My drive to do well is to make my whānanu proud, but also to inspire other rangatahi, and bring them along with me – encourage them to step outside of their comfort zones, push past their boundaries and the fears holding them back.

I love Manu Kōrero because it is one of the few events for tauira Māori (Māori students) to watch, listen, and immerse themselves in a world of the Māori language. This was my fourth and last year participating in the competition, and I honestly felt a bit sad to see it come to an end. I would encourage any student of Māori descent to get involved with Manu Kōrero. It has truly grown me into the confident young woman I am today. Because of this competition, I feel more connected with my culture, and I feel more confident in my identity. I understand that public speaking can be scary at times, however once you push past this barrier, it is honestly one of the most rewarding activities.

– By Isabella Drummond