Te Kura o Manukura clean up at the ‘Ngā Manu Kōrero 2021 speech competitions

By Marena Mane

Due to Covid-19, the National Ngā Manu Kōrero secondary speech competition was held entirely online this year, hosted by Manawatū Horowhenua in Palmerston North.

The two-day competition began broadcasting online on Tuesday through the Ngā Manu Kōrero 2021, Manawatū Horowhenua Facebook page.

The speeches delivered at the regional competition were recorded and used for the national competition this year.

Aria Komene, who won the Sir Turi Carroll trophy for Junior English, and Matariki Black, who came in third overall for Senior English, are both from Manukura High in Palmerston North.

Because the tournament was held online because of Aotearoa's Covid limitations, Black thinks it was certainly different. “However, like our tupuna, Māori people have an innate ability to adjust and adapt, which ensures that we keep moving forward as people.”

Komene, the regional and now national champion for the Junior English category, says it was weird at first, but that in these Covid times, the nation's health and safety are paramount.

“We are grateful that we had the opportunity to stand,” Komene says.

Black says, “For me, the outcome of the win was that this type of Māori kaupapa opens up more pathways for myself, and maybe for Aria over here as well to dive into other kaupapa like Manu Kōrero and other speaking platforms

Speech topics

Black spoke on the topic When They See Us, in which he discussed how Māori are depicted in the media and how Māori see themselves.

 “Let us be the writers of our own script, our own media, our own pathways and our own futures, and let's write them with adjectives like amazing, spontaneous, awesome, and onomatopoeia like Wow, Whoosh and Woohoo.”

Komene says her speech on Māori wards was personal and significant to her whanau, iwi, and kura.

“We as Māori have the right to participate in all levels of society, and to determine our own pathways.”

“I'm very proud of my iwi, because, at the end of the day, we got what we wanted, which was a seat on the Manawatū District Council,” Komene says.

Future aspirations

Black plans to complete a creative media production programme at Massey University in Wellington next year to pursue his ambition of being an indigenous filmmaker and sharing Māori stories and he says: “Taika Waititi if you're watching and you got any jobs, hit me up, bro.”

Komene says Ngā Manu Kōrero has provided her and other rangatahi a platform to voice their opinions in which she says is important.

“I wish to pursue further studies so that I grow as a person, and hopefully be a part of the change that our people need,” she says.