Today the Northern Advocate marks the start of Te Wiki o te Reo Māori, Māori Language Week. Like last year the theme for the week is Kia Kaha te Reo Māori and in saying that we are declaring "Let's make the Māori language strong"

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Te Aroha Pawa says Ngā Manu Kōrero gives her a platform to share her point of view.

So the 18-year-old Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Rangi Aniwaniwa student is looking forward to representing Te Tai Tokerau in the national secondary school speech competition being held in Palmerston North next week.

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"One of the things I'm excited for is being surrounded by Māori, and other races as well, to pretty much celebrate te reo Māori. Because that's what I feel like Ngā Manu Kōrero is - a celebration of te reo Māori."

Pawa is among a group of students representing Te Tai Tokerau after taking part in the regional competition held at Northland College earlier this year.

The 18-year-old, who came first in the Pei Te Hurinui Jones Senior Māori category at the regional competition, has been taking part in Ngā Manu Kōreo since 2015 and said it has provided her with a platform to be able to share her point of view.

"I feel at this age a lot of kids feel like their opinions don't matter and Ngā Manu Kōrero has really helped me get my idea out there about the topics that are given."

Ngā Manu Kōrero is in its 54th year and will see students from secondary schools around the country take part, representing 15 regions.

The competition is made up of four sections: Pei Te Hurinui for Senior Māori, Korimako for Senior English, Rāwhiti Ihaka for Junior Māori and Sir Turi Carroll for Junior English.

Pawa has represented Northland at nationals before, in the Junior Māori section. When she found out she would be representing the region again, but this time in the Senior Māori section, she was "so so so relieved".

"I was so proud of that achievement and I think it will always be one of the big achievements I will always hold on to."

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Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Rangi Aniwaniwa student Te Aroha Pawa, 18, says te reo Māori is everything to her. Photo / Supplied
Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Rangi Aniwaniwa student Te Aroha Pawa, 18, says te reo Māori is everything to her. Photo / Supplied

This week is also Te Wiki o te reo Māori. Pawa was raised in te ao Māori, the Māori world, and said te reo Māori was "everything".

"It is the cornerstone of all that is Māori. It acts as if it is the medium through which Māori explain the world and I feel like the survival of the people - we as Māori - and the uniqueness of Māori as a race is enhanced through te reo Māori."

The theme for Māori Language Week this year is the same as last - "Kia Kaha te reo Māori" and is about making Māori language strong.

Pawa said people should not be ashamed to speak, or try to speak te reo Māori.

"Even if you're wrong every single word counts and it goes towards the revitalisation of te reo Māori which is pretty much already happening."

Pawa said she was looking forward to being surrounded by other young people who speak te reo at Ngā Manu Kōrero.

"It's really cool getting together with people my age who are passionate about te reo Māori and who showcase they are passionate about te reo Māori.

Ngā Manu Kōrero runs from tomorrow to Thursday. Pawa hoped to bring home a win but said she was content representing her kura (school) and Te Tai Tokerau.


Other Māori Language Week events in Northland:

* Te Wiki o te reo Māori parade will start at Whangārei Library today at 10am and end at the Hihiaua Cultural Centre.
* Kaikohe Library will be holding activities throughout the week To celebrate Māori Language Week:
- It will start today with the renaming of its Pātaka Kai (community food pantry), from 11am to 1pm.
- Te Reo Māori Scrabble DIY - where punters will be able to make their own Scrabble tile set to play in Te Reo Māori - will run tomorrow from 2pm to 4pm and Wednesday from 10am to 12pm.
- Māori Games Day is on Wednesday from 2pm to 4pm and Thursday from 10am to 12pm - The open mic sessions will run tomorrow from 10am to 12pm and Friday from 2pm to 4pm.

*Are you holding an event in Northland to celebrate Te Wiki o te reo Māori? Let us know by emailing reporters@northernadvocate.co.nz