Paora Allen says it was "pretty special" to stand on stage and represent Te Tai Tokerau at an event he says gives young people a voice.
The 17-year-old student from Te Kapehu Whetu represented Northland in the Korimako (Senior English) category at the Nga Manu Korero National Secondary School Speech Contest, along with Rehia Nikora-Rameka from Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Kaikohe who represented the region in the Pei Te Hurinui Jones - Senior Maori category.
The Te Tai Tokerau speakers were two of 30 from around the country who stood in front of thousands at Whangarei's ASB Stadium yesterday representing their regions in an impromptu section, and in the prepared speech section.
Mr Allen said the standard of competition at the national event was high and said it was a great promoter of te reo Maori.
"It gives us young people an opportunity to have a voice and it puts forward a good face for Maori. Maori can get a lot of bagging sometimes but this is really positive," he said.
Mr Allen said in preparation for the event he spent weeks ensuring he knew his speech well.
"I probably put in three weeks until I had it down in my head but then I really tried to get it down with actions," he said.
The Year 13 Contest will continue tomorrow with the Ta Turi Kara (Junior English) and the Ta Rawhiti Ihaka - Junior Maori sections".
"Especially because I just came up from Auckland to Te Tai Tokerau this year. It's not only representing your area but your whanau," he said.
The 2016 Nga Manu Korero National Secondary School Speech Contest will continue tomorrow with the Ta Turi Kara (Junior English) and the Ta Rawhiti Ihaka - Junior Maori sections.
To view a livestream of the event visit http://tehiku.nz/nmk16.