Another golden feather fits right in Takaimaania Ngata-Henare's cap of accolades as she wins the prestigious Senior Māori Tā Himi Henare Memorial Trophy this year, making a full circle to bring the trophy back to the Henare family.
The Sir James Henare Memorial Trophy commemorates the late Sir James Clendon Tau Henare, revered kaumātua of Te Tai Tokerau.
Ngata-Henare is a descendant of Sir James Henare who was an outstanding orator in both Māori and English. He was a respected National member who promoted the Māori Language throughout Aotearoa, New Zealand.
Ngata-Henare is a year 11 student at Huanui College.
After winning the Māori Te Rawhiti-Ihaka Trophy in 2019 in the junior Māori section, this is the second Māori language trophy that Ngata-Henare has won. These were also the only Māori language trophies that were secured by Huanui College.
For the 14-year-old, the trophy is a reminder of the growing history of the bicultural community.
"In the past, many families have developed a bicultural community here. So, it is really important for me to continue that culture and grow te reo Māori here.
"It is very important today because sometimes a lot of young students may be losing their language, their culture, and for me, it is very important to keep in touch with my culture."
Growing up, she wished to stand up for social injustice.
"When we look at the Māori community, we were once suppressed but now that we are not, we have so many opportunities to change and grow as a culture. Growing the language is one of my biggest goals.
"I sometimes worry that our language will be gone since it is spoken just in New Zealand."
Fluent in English and Māori, she also speaks a bit of Spanish, French, and Mandarin.
She started learning Spanish in year 7 and slowly began to lose her touch in te reo, she said.
"That was when I realised that I need to keep in touch with my language and culture. Only then I can continue to share it with people all around the world someday."
Winning the trophy was also very personal for the young girl, as one of the former winners of the trophy, MP Peeni Henare, is her uncle.
To her understanding, there were two parts to the trophy - the carving, which is in the memory of Tā Himi Henare who was an orator in English and Māori; and the taonga around the neck of the trophy, which is in the memory of Dame Whina Cooper who was an activist for the land rights whose famous quote was "not one more acre".
"Interestingly, the competition venue was in Panguru, which is also where Whina Cooper comes from. It is amazing to win an award that is so significant."
Ngata-Henare's chosen topic for the speech was Te Paepapori he tuhona tangata, he tuwehe tangata ranei - social media platforms – does it connect us or disconnect us?
All other topics were very general this year and social media was the only one that she could understand personally since she used social media to promote her own business, she said.
For the senior Māori language award, nine out of the registered 15 participants competed.
Huanui College teacher and her mentor Henry Beattie said the trophy was her drive. He was there to just support her, mentally and spiritually.
"The last time I saw this trophy was in 1990. Just to have a speaker of that calibre and the school that is not known for its Māori speaking, is an honour for the school.
"On top of that, Sir James's great-great-grandchild wins this award is a very special moment.
"The speech was all her creation. Her Māori section was wonderful and she illustrated with her own personal experiences."
Ngata-Henare launched her business Mau Designz on Waitangi Day last year. She designed te reo Māori wrapping paper, a niche up-to-date design with bright colours, cards that had Māori designs on them. She also made handmade cards and stickers.
She stumbled upon the idea of starting a business when was fundraising for her sporting endeavours to travel overseas in 2019. In a way, it was also about normalising the language, said Ngata-Henare.
She used her business as an example and weaved it into her speech.
Her business slogan was also articulated with Māori significance attached to it.
Ngata-Henare is also one of Northland's brightest table tennis stars. She had previously won under-18 and under-21 and women's national titles and is ranked sixth in the country.