Aukaha Kakau-Dickson of Te Wharekura o Mauao is this year's Mataatua Regional Manu Kōrero champion, for the Pei Te Hurinui Jones section. He says this is an accomplishment he has been longing for a long time.
A chief's food is to talk, but, for this orator, there are other kinds of fruits for him from this work.
"Right from birth, I've been practising for these kinds of roles. Therefore, no doubt there will come a time where I will get the chance to stand on the paepae. However, until then this is the platform to prepare yourself and practice," says Kakau-Dickson.
It is his self-belief that helps him remain centred when he stands and speaks.
"My spirit is calm, and I'm not trying to sound arrogant, but I believe in my skills. I came here to complete this task and that's what is important to me."
His mother has been gone for six years now, and he says she is always at the pinnacle of his thoughts.
"These kinds of occasions, no doubt, make me think back to my mother, our uncle Matiu and all the others who have passed on from my family."
Winning is one of the ultimate prizes for the contestants who compete at this level, and that is a dream Kakau-Dickson has achieved.
"That is another reason I took part in this competition, to get to that level and be able to say, 'I've made it to that level, I have accomplished what I came here to do', and all of those things," he says.
Kakau-Dickson has a request for one of his teachers.
"One of my biggest hopes is for Hohua Tutengaehe to come back home. That's my hope for him, to come back home. He has been at Te Wharekura o Ruatoki for far too long. However, I thank them for looking after him for so long."
The National Ngā Manu Kōrero will take place in Palmerston North in September.