Sacred Heart student takes top honours at national speech competition

Tuimaleali'ifano Fiso, 16, with the Te Manu Korōhi Te Ata Pō trophy which she won at the Ngā Manu Kōrero speech competition.
MATTHEW TSO/STUFF

Tuimaleali'ifano Fiso, 16, with the Te Manu Korōhi Te Ata Pō trophy which she won at the Ngā Manu Kōrero speech competition.

Tuimaleali'ifano Fiso, 16, overcame sickness to speak with "flair, wit and passion" to win her category at the national Ngā Manu Kōrero speech competition.

The year 12 student from Upper Hutt won the Senior English section at the competition for her speech on the importance of spiritual heath in education.

Having lost her voice on the last day of the competition in New Plymouth due to illness, she was surprised when her name was called out as the winner.

"I didn't think I stood a chance. Everyone else was so good." 

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She picked her speech on spiritual health from the list of topics because "no one else was talking about it," and because she felt it was particularly relevant to herself, her faith and her school.

Tuimaleali'ifano qualified for the competition by winning the regional Awakairangi ki te Wairarapa competition and went on to beat the top speakers from 15 other regions at Ngā Manu Kōrero.

Her te reo Māori teacher Tawai Frost said Tuimaleali'ifano's confidence had shone through and she could not be any more proud of her.

"Her speech was delivered with flair, wit and passion. She had the audience captivated and all eyes were on her.

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"She's an inspiration to younger Māori and Pacifica students who aspire to go to the competition."

The Secondary Schools National Ngā Manu Kōrero competition has been running for 52 years with the aim of encouraging Māori students to develop skills and confidence in spoken Māori and English.

Frost said the competition was an important instrument in protecting and growing te reo.

Tuimaleali'ifano, who has a Māori and Samoan background, was proud of her heritage and said it was amazing to see so many students in one place speaking te reo and about Māori issues.

Sacred Heart principal Maria Potter said it was refreshing to hear such a young woman talk so passionately about her spirituality.

She said one the of the schools' key goals was to ensure students were comfortable with who they were and it was great to see Tuimaleali'ifano's success at regional and national speaking competitions that promoted Māori language and topics. 

 - Hutt News

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