Manawatu-Horowhenua is celebrating Māori Language Week with the annual Ngā Manu Kōrero National competition.
The opening ceremony of the competition took place in Palmerston North today and sixty students from schools across the country are set to take to the stage over the next few days.
It was the warm welcome from Rangitāne Tangatarau that invited the country into their meeting house to celebrate the next generation of orators.
Professor Meihana Durie says (Rangitāne, Ngāti Kauwhata, Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Porou, Rongo Whakaata, Ngāi Tahu), "We are honoured that the Manu Kōrero competition has come to us here in Rangitāne this year."
It has been 14 years since the event has been here in Palmerston North, and organisers are pleased to see its return.
"We always pursue this pathway for the betterment of out youth here in the Manawatu Horowhenua region," says Nic Fonotoe (Ratana Pā).
This is the first time this event has been opened up to the public for free, and it is to welcome more people into our Māori world.
"There's no other event like this. Therefore for this week, Māori Language Week, we have opened up the doors to the community so they can hear the important thoughts of our young people as well as hearing the Māori language," says Fonotoe.
While this is a speech competition it is also a forum to celebrate the Māori language.
"It's not only just Manu Kōrero but, its the revitalisation of the Māori language, secondly its the talent of our children and grandchildren," says Professor Durie.
He also says the proper language to use, the language that should flow is the Māori language.
"If this generation doesn't follow that ill language will be lost."
The competition kicks off tomorrow with the Pei Te Hurinui Jones and the Korimako section.