Language quality continues to rise – Manu Kōrero Judge

By Dean Nathan

Young orators took the stage today at the Ngā Manu Kōrero National Secondary School Speech contest in Whangarei, one of the most renowned events for young Māori orators.

Judges say there is nothing like these impromptu speeches to observe the correct use of words.

Manu Kōrero judge Tamati Waaka says, “The standard of our language continues to rise as we've seen with the impromptu speeches this morning and the formal speeches are still to come. Here they are saying what comes to mind as they stand before us and so from a Māori language perspective the standard continues to rise.”

Today, the stage alternates between competitors in the Pei Te Hurinui and Korimako sections with the Te Rāwhiti Ihaka and Sir Turi Caroll sections to follow tomorrow.

Manu Kōrero judge Dahlia Walker says, “These young people are on stage before an audience of hundreds speaking their minds and it's not an easy thing to do. So they need to be congratulated because they're all winners.”

Many of today's judges were competitors and winners of this competition in former years. But in their time, there was no option but to attend mainstream schools as kura kaupapa Māori and wharekura didn't exist.  Hence, the quality of the Māori language at this competition continues to rise.

“The majority of us weren't educated in our native tongue and you were lucky if you were raised with the language. But these days, you can hear that the Māori speakers are adept at referencing Māori knowledge to express themselves,” says Waaka.

Tomorrow, the winners of this year's Ngā Manu Kōrero speech competition will be known.