Power and pride in speeches

01:05, Sep 21 2012
Wirihana de Thierry
ON WHANAU: Waimea College student Te Atapo Matthews delivers her speech during the Nga Manu Korero national secondary school speech contest at the Trafalgar Centre.

Secondary school students from around the country have addressed judges on a range of topics in Maori and English, from trusting oneself and being "powerful beyond measure" to the Urewera raids.

Nga Manu Korero, a national secondary school Maori speech contest, took over the Trafalgar Centre yesterday and continues today.

The competition, featuring more than 50 speakers from 14 regions, aims to foster the development of skills and confidence of Maori students in spoken English and Maori. It is being held in Nelson for the first time in its 47-year history.

Wirihana de Thierry of Nelson College for Girls and Te Atapo Matthews of Waimea College represented Te Tau Ihu in yesterday's senior competition.

Te Atapo, 18, said she spoke in Maori about oil drilling in the North Island, the Treaty of Waitangi, the Ureweras, and “bringing back some Maori independence”.

She spoke about the origins of mana or pride, what it means, “and how we [Maori] need to get that back”.


Te Atapo is in year 13, so yesterday's Nga Manu Korero performance was her last.

“I have loved it. It's always stressful, but so rewarding - just coming on stage. I really like arguing my point of view. That's probably the best thing.”

Te Atapo incorporated chants and haka into her speech delivery, as “performing is a big part of it - the presentation”.

Wirihana, 16, delivered a speech in English about whanau resilience, based on personal experience.

“Our family was going through a whole heap of trials and tribulations when my Mum was pregnant with my little sister.

"They [the doctors] ended up telling us that she had a huge brain condition, wouldn't survive, and the only thing to do was to terminate - and that wasn't an option for my parents.”

Wirihana said her parents carried on with the pregnancy, taking a risk, and her sister was now four.

“She's doing awesome. She goes to school next year. She does have her condition, but she's still alive, she's still with us.

"It's kei te pai."

Her speech was about “how sometimes you can get down and people can tell you things, but it's just the way you get back up and how you deal with it”.

Wirihana said she liked being a positive example to other young people, and pushing them and giving them something to aspire to.

David and Kowhai de Thierry of Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Tuia Te Matangi represent the top of the south in the junior sections today.

The Nelson Mail