For St. John’s College student Noah Kaio, coming third in a regional Māori speech competition, has fuelled his desire to become fluent in te reo.
Noah, who is in year 12, placed second in the Senior English impromptu speech division, and third overall at the Ngā Manu Kōrero Te Matau a Māui Speech Competition held earlier this month.
Held annually, Ngā Manu Kōrero is a Māori speech competition for secondary school Māori pupils around the country which encourages fluency in Te Reo Māori and English.
His impromptu speech focused on Music being the most important thing in the world. He says music, particularly waiata, is a strong part of what makes Māori a whanau.
“I talked about how music unites communities and builds connections with people you don’t necessarily know. It also motivates us to keep moving and it gets us out of our lowest points.
While he has entered speech competitions previously, Noah says he has never competed in one at this scale, let alone with a strong Māori component.
“I’ve rarely gone to places, probably no more than five, where everyone knew Māori and were able to converse with each other in Māori, so to see a couple hundred people speaking the language fluently was pretty cool.”
Noah says he has a basic understanding of the language, and, together with his whanau, try and speak it as much as they can.
“It just kind of took me by surprise. And honestly, I think that’s a really good thing. I've never been happier to feel out of place.”
Being able to have members of his Māori class on stage to tautoko him prior to both his impromptu and prepared speeches, was something he never knew he needed, but was grateful for.
“It made me more comfortable to know that people I consider to be whanau were there supporting me.”
St. John’s College principal Mr Rob Ferreira congratulated Noah for his achievements.
"Noah has not only made himself proud but St. John's College proud. We wish him success in everything he does."
Photo: St. John's College student Noah Kaio (middle) with peers at the Ngā Manu Kōrero Te Matau a Māui Speech Competition.