By Pokere Paewai of RNZ
The environment and Māori identity were hot button topics among rangatahi at this year’s Ngā Manu Kōrero speech competition.
Te Whakataetae ā-Motu mō Ngā Manu Kōrero 2023 ki Ōtākou was held over two days this week at the Edgar Centre in Dunedin, after two years of being held online.
The competition is a proving ground for rangatahi Māori, and many Māori leaders in the fields of te reo, kapa haka and media can look back on Manu Kōrero success in their youth.
Former national finalist, Kiringaua Cassidy said the level of speakers at this year’s competition was amazing; he had seen many of them come up through the ranks to the point where they were now “guns on the stage.
“Manu Kōrero is a really great way for young Māori to get our opinion out there and to become noticed as leaders in our communities. It helps our tamariki grow in their responsibilities as leaders for their people,” Cassidy said.
Rangatahi were not afraid to speak on the issues that mattered most to them, he said.
“They’re also quite political, there are some students talking about being unapologetically Māori and standing strong as Māori in today’s world. So those are quite key, important themes that I think are coming through in these speeches.”
The competition at Ngā Manu Kōrero is divided into four divisions: junior and senior Māori, along with junior and senior English.
The reo Māori sections are open to all secondary students nationwide as part of a strategy to support everyone to learn and to speak te reo Māori.
“Anyone is welcome to come along and do the te reo Māori section which is another way to uphold the mana of te reo Māori and a great way for anyone who would like to showcase te reo Māori to the country,” Cassidy said.
The competition also marked a special occasion for local iwi - it had been 13 years since the last time Manu Kōrero was hosted in the rohe of Ngāi Tahu.
Cassidy said he was still in school the last time it was in the South Island.
“This time it’s really special because we get to showcase who we are as Ōtākou in Dunedin, as Kai Tahu and [we] get to manaaki, get to look after the whole motu.”