A year 11 Whangarei school student has brought the prestigious Ngā Manu Kōrero Speech award to Te Tai Tokerau.
Kamo High School student Khalia Wilson won the Te Manu Korohi Te Ata Pō trophy for the Best Prepared Speech.
The contest is for secondary school Māori pupils in years 11, 12 and 13 from across the country.
The 15-year-old believed she won because she was very passionate about her speech and believed in what she spoke.
“My topic was ‘An investment in knowledge has the highest return.’ I was using this topic as a way to somehow empower Māori and motivate them to invest in themselves, as a way to stand up against racism.
“Invest in it, learn about it, and educate yourself.”
Wilson said she was had seen racism in her life and that motivated her to prepare the speech.
“I wanted to be able to show to other Māori who experience racism on a daily basis that it is okay to stand up against it. We should not be ashamed or scared to stand up against racism because it is our right.”
The competition made her more confident, said Wilson.
“I competed in Manu Kōrero in year 9 and came second by only half a point.
“I wasn’t expecting to win this time at all. I was overwhelmed when I won the regional round. Then when it came to Nationals, I literally had no words, I was just screaming and cheering.
“It is overwhelming but so cool at the same time that I get to explain and show how I feel to Aotearoa.
“I learnt that it does not necessarily matter how you present your kōrero, it is more about how passionate you are about your speech.
“How important your speech is to you reflects in you. I feel like I won because my speech was very important to me, I spoke from my heart.”
Wilson said her ultimate goal was to empower Māori and to provide them with resources they could use to defend themselves against racism.
Khalia Wilson, Year 11, has won the Manu Korero Korimako Senior English section. Photo / Michael Cunningham
“That showed in my speech and maybe it was the reason why I won.
“I want to get out there to help Māori, not only in Aotearoa but all across the globe.”
KHS Māori Teacher Awarua Savage and Manu Kōrero Coach Mataaria Tautali helped the young girl with her speech.
“They motivated me to do everything and they were the reason I took part in the competition.
“The first time I ever stood in Manu Kōrero two years ago, it was only because whaea Mataaria told me to.
“I come from a very shy family, no one in my immediate family is an orator or can fully korero in Māori. I took part in the competition for my family too.”
To anyone who was ever thinking of taking part in Manu Kōrero, Wilson said, “do not worry about the topics, to write about any kaupapa they are passionate about. Later on, you will find a way to fit it in the real topics.”
“I would also like to thank all of Northland, to my family, to my friends, to my school Te Kura tuarua o te Kamo,” said Wilson.
Wilson’s Māori teacher Savage said the win really made her feel proud.
“The winning is not only for her but for her family and the entire Tai Tokerau as well. This is a great achievement for us as iwi and as Northlanders.
“The school is buzzing since she won the competition. Not only that, all the Māori teachers from across Northland have been congratulating her for the big win.”