Students test bilingual skills

Some of Manawatu's most well-spoken youth braved the spotlight to showcase their oratory skills in two languages.

An audience of hundreds turned out to support secondary school students who competed at the Manawatu/Horowhenua Regional Manu Korero Speech Competitions held at Te Wananga o Aotearoa campus on Centennial Dr in Palmerston North yesterday.

Students from schools in Dannevirke, Marton, Feilding and Palmerston North took to the stage to test their orating skills in both English and te reo Maori.

The annual event is held in partnership with Tai Wananga Tu Toa, Te Wananga o Aotearoa and Massey University.

The competition challenges young Maori speakers to better themselves in oratory skills, with the competition run in two parts - a six-minute prepared speech section, in either English or Maori, and three-minute impromptu speech section, in either English or Maori.

The speaker with the highest score across both sections takes top spot and progresses to the national competition.

The competition featured some serious topics for students to muse over, including "Education is the most powerful tool", "Graffiti: an art or crime?" and "Chance encounters can be life transforming".

But it was the young speakers' impromptu comedy skills which came to the fore when forced to think on their feet that had the audience in fits.

Impromptu topics ranged from the effects of technology on young people's lives and preserving te reo Maori.

Horowhenua College student Roha Teomeringi's homily on the effect social media had on communication had the audience cheering and laughing.

Turakina Maori Girls' College student Ella Lyons told the audience that young Maori were the drivers in maintaining the language.

"Te reo is powerful, and we need to be the one to revitalise it," Lyons said.

Manawatu Standard