Young Northlanders will be putting their oratory skills to the test in a competition known for springboarding future leaders into the spotlight.

The Northland regional Nga Manu Korero Speech Contest kicks off at Otamatea High School today and will see about 65 speakers from more than 23 schools compete in five different categories.

Thomaseena Paul, Otamatea High School te reo Maori teacher, said the competition had been going for 52 years and it was the first time the school would be hosting it.

"It springboards future leaders into the spotlight and keeps oral traditions alive," she said.


The five categories of the competition are: Ta Turi Carroll - Junior English; Rawhiti Ihaka - Junior Maori; Korimako - Senior English; Pei Te Hurinui Jones - Senior Maori, and; the Ta Himi Henare bilingual section, a category exclusive to Northland.

Ms Paul said students spent a lot of time preparing for the three-day competition.

"It's just a rollercoaster ride. Each speaker has to go and choose a topic and create their speech and practise. A lot of schools have their own competition and so you've got to win that to go to the regionals."

Ms Paul said it was more than about memorising a speech, the delivery of it was an important part of the competition.

"That sets Nga Manu Korero apart, it's not a classic speech competition - a lot of it is the performance. The speaker has to be a puppet master and make the audience feel what they want them to feel," she said.

The competition will begin with a powhiri today and end on Friday.

Visit the official Facebook page for the timetable.