Winners speak up for pride in te reo
As accomplished Maori orators took the runner-up positions at the Nga Manu Korero speech competition Wiremu Tai Tin's heart couldn't help but race.
The Massey High School student had been to the Auckland regional finals of the national speech competition before but he'd never won until this month.
The gold badge prefect didn't let his victory in the senior Maori and impromptu categories break his calm appearance though.
"I wanted to show respect to the other speakers," he says.
Schoolmate Kalani Pewhairangi-Charlie took out the junior Maori division.
Wiremu's wins put him in the running to win the Pei Te Hurinui Jones Trophy if he gains the highest aggregate mark in the prepared and impromptu sections of the senior Maori national competition in Nelson.
The trophy commemorates the life and work of the late Pei Te Hurinui Jones, a distinguished elder and scholar from Waikato who died in 1976.
Dr Jones was a renowned orator and prolific writer.
Kalani, 13, says having the support of his family, friends and teachers at the Auckland competition put him at ease for his speech about Maori mythology and lullabies.
"The Maori lullabies tell us we have to look after our little ones because they are the leaders of tomorrow.
"I also spoke about the important values that Maori mythology teaches us, like never giving up."
Both students attended Maori immersion schools before attending Massey and speak fluent te reo.
Their parents speak English as a first language.
Massey High School Maori faculty co-leader and Wiremu's father Hemi Tai Tin says the boys prove that Maori-speaking students can maintain their language in a large mainstream school.
"They show that you can go to kura kaupapa and then come here and make the most of the immense size and options the school provides.
"I'm immensely proud of them," he says.
"English was my first language and whenever I'd visit my family up north no one spoke it.
"I've always wanted to know my own language so it wasn't a hard decision to send my children to kohanga reo.
"These two have grown up in town yet they're still up there with those who have grown up in rural areas surrounded by their language."
Mr Tai Tin says Wiremu and Kalani are assets to their school.
"It does our Maori faculty proud, our student faculty proud and their successes raise awareness of Maori culture and Maori pride," he says.
"That can only do good things."