There was a high standard of competition as students from Rotorua high schools presented their speeches around an interesting topic.

The 54th Annual Secondary Schools Speech Competition, organised by the Rotary Club of Rotorua, was held at the Rydges Hotel on Monday evening.

As is the tradition, the topic was set by the immediate past president, with Dr Russell Burton asking - "Artificial intelligence - is it the saviour of our future society or not?".

The winner of the competition was Orla Walsh from John Paul College.

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She was praised by chief judge Tim Charleson from the Lake City Breakfast Toastmasters Club for the immediate connection she made with the audience, her well-paced delivery and her use of humour.

Peter Spurdle, Rotary Club of Rotorua member and speech contest co-ordinator, says there were five students in the annual competition - one from each of the high schools in Rotorua.

Peter says it was a high-standard, varied and interesting competition, judged by three members of the Toastmasters club.

He says one of the rotary club's focuses includes youth development, and it has a few youth initiatives it runs such as the speech competition.

President Tom Davis with Emily Wharekura (WHHS), Anais Lawson (RLHS), Orla Walsh (JPC), Geraldine Atchico (RGHS) and Jimah Ruland-Umata (RBHS). Photo / Supplied
President Tom Davis with Emily Wharekura (WHHS), Anais Lawson (RLHS), Orla Walsh (JPC), Geraldine Atchico (RGHS) and Jimah Ruland-Umata (RBHS). Photo / Supplied

"It's about giving young adults the chance to stand up in front of whole group of people and speak, and the confidence that brings to young people.

"It is something that stands them in good stead for their future lives."

Peter says this year they were able to read out piece for the students about Slyvia Breen, who was the first winner of the annual competition in 1965.

She had emailed through some information about the different stages of her life and about the competition when she took part, bringing into perspective for the young adults how there are benefits to taking part in these types of events, he says.

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