Student wins Race Unity Speech Awards prize for speech in Māori

By Mana Wikaire-Lewis

PHOTO / SUPPLIED

A student from Te Tai Rāwhiti has won a prize at the national Race Unity Speech Awards for 2022  with a speech entirely in te reo Māori.

Year 11 Campion College student Jacqueline Te Kani-Nankivell (Te Aitanga-a-Māhaki, Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāpuhi ki Ngāti Kahu) received the Tohu Manukura I te Reo – Māori Language Commission Award for te reo Māori last Sunday during the national final.

It's the first time in 12 years that an award has been given to a winner whose speech was entirely in Māori. The last person to do so was Aperehama Hurihanganui who won the National Champion's Award in 2010. Hurihanganui is now a consultant at cultural intelligence firm Engaging Well. 

This year’s topic was Ngā matimati nō te ringa kotahi – the fingers of one hand. Te Kani-Nankivell connected this with the "upraised hand" that symbolises Te Hāhi Ringatū. To understand how the tyranny Te Kooti Arikirangi Te Tūruki experienced at the hands of the government led to the founding of Te Hāhi Ringatū in 1867, Jacqueline used the teachings of Te Hāhi Wairua Tapu (a branch of Te Hāhi Ringatū) to examine this metaphor in her speech.

She spoke alongside six other high school students in the national final at Ngā Kete Wānanga Marae at the Manukau Institute of Technology’s Ōtara campus.

Te Taura Whiri I te Reo Māori spokesperson Rangiora Trotman-Peita said the commission’s position on sponsoring the tohu for the past two years made its position clear: to encourage people to speak te reo Māori in national forums.

Chief speech awards judge and deputy police commissioner Wally Haumaha said it was important to hear the voices of young people and their concerns about the future of Aotearoa.

The Race Unity Speech Awards are organised by the New Zealand Bahá’í Community, established after the death of race relations advocate and Bahá’í Faith member Hedi Moani. Sponsors include the Human Rights Commission, Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori and principal partner the New Zealand Police.