The Māori Speech competition for Auckland's Southern/Eastern region was held in Māngere today. A key focus for many of the competitors was the plight of the people in Ihumātao.
"Māori have become visitors in their own lands" said Te Aukutai Cook of Te Kura Māori o Ngā Tapuwae to introduce the topic of his speech in the Senior Māori language section of the competition.
It was one of the popular topics of the day.
"The reason I chose this topic is because of my links to Te Waiohua and to the families in Ihumātao and the issues around the wrongful taking of their land," Cook says.
Kaea Skilton-Roberts of Auckland Boys Grammer also chose to speak about Ihumātao.
"Currently Māori are protesting against Fletchers developing the land at Ihumātao. We're support the protection of that land."
These are but young fledgelings heeding the plight of their Māori communities.
Shaneva Morunga from James Cook High School in Manurewa gave a passionate delivery of her speech in the Junior English category.
"I am tangata whenua and this is my land. This is my home. We will not be silenced," she exclaimed.
Morunga says she feels there needs to be more recognition of Māori, and the depths of Māori culture needs to be celebrated more.
From Waiuku in the south to Glendowie in the east and across to Mt Eden, only ten schools are competing this year, with the aim of winning their section in Māori and English, Junior and Senior.
Cook says he's finding that the language is growing amongst each of the students within the Southern/Eastern region.
"It's a positive sign for me. It's a positive sign for all of us."
Skilton-Roberts agrees saying the Māori language is gaining greater recognition at his school.
"I think it would be good for it to expand even more."
The four winners of each section will go through to represent the region at Ngā Manu Kōrero national competition in Palmerston North in September.
Next month is the North/Western region where another four will be chosen to represent Auckland.
1st Pei Te Hurinui Senior Māori - Teaukutai Cook (Te Kura Māori o Ngā Tapuwae)
1st Korimako Senior English - Ethan Oneroa (Te Kura Māori o Ngā Tapuwae)
1st Rawhiti Ihaka Junior Māori - Charles Gemmell (Te Kura Māori o Ngā Tapuwae)
1st Sir Turi Carrol Junior English - Jodeci Pereiha-Tipene (Te Kura Māori o Ngā Tapuwae)