Tiaki takes to national Ngā Manu Kōrero stage


In May, year 10 Nayland student Tiaki Sharp won the junior English section of this regional speech competition for our rōhe (area).

This led to him being the first Nayland student since the 1990s to compete on the prestigious national stage.  

Read on as Tiaki shares his experiences of this huge event.

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of joining a group of Nayland Māori language students at Ngā Manu Kōrero / National Māori Speech Competitions in Palmerston North. Led by Whaea Chanel and Matua Nigel, we soaked up two days of speeches in Te Reo and English by the winners of regional speech competitions from Cape Reinga to the Bluff. I was representing Te Tau Ihu, the Top of the South.

In Palmerston North we sampled some of the local treasures such as the pools, karaoke and I even suffered minor injury during laser tag. We were treated to a fantastic range of speeches on topics that ranged from ‘My culture is not a performance’ to ‘I want to keep quiet but my ancestors won’t let me’. Many speakers used personal stories and references to significant people in their community or their iwi to emphasise their points, with emotive language and strong challenges to power that left a lasting impression. I highly recommend watching some of the winners on YouTube and Māori TV.

While backstage at Ngā Manu Kōrero, all I could think about was how many people were watching. Everyone behind me on the stage, everyone in the audience, anyone with a TV tuned in to Māori television, was watching me. If I stumbled or tripped, they would see it. But I also knew that many of the people watching would know and identify with what I was saying. Many of us shared ancestors and iwi. They were all willing to listen and it was my luck I had something to say. When all this combined it cancelled out all feelings of nervousness, all other feelings. I just had to do one thing and do it well enough that my message could get across: ‘We are a people, and this is our potential. This is what we can do’.

I’d like to thank Whaea Chanel, Matua Nigel, my teammates, their whānau and Nayland for their support on this trip and I encourage more students to get involved next year.

Here’s what Tiaki’s Neirana whānau shared about the experience of supporting him at this event:

“It was a pretty awesome experience seeing everyone talking and how the other kura tautoko – their performance after their speaker spoke.  And seeing everyone fully involved and seeing people happy, people smiling, everything was uplifting, getting to know people that I never knew from this school and other schools was pretty amazing.”

Wiremu Tairaki-Whiu

“The whole experience was pretty out of it because there aren’t many Māori events I go to, especially up north.  As a Māori event I reckon it’s cool as, just being a part of it and being a part of supporting Tiaki and our region, Marlborough Boys, Marlborough Girls and Boys College. Performing was one of my highlights.” 

“I’m so proud of him [Tiaki].  He deserved a placing. Everything he did and said was on point and I’m just real proud to be his friend.”

Canon Hedley

“The kids were absolutely brilliant. You take away a group of students like that there and you get kicked out of the kitchen because they’re in charge of doing everything, they’ve done it before, it’s just so easy.”

“He [Tiaki] was the only one that chose that topic, it was quite a difficult topic.  He did very well, presented it very well (…).  Of the speakers I saw, I thought his actually was a stand-out one.”

Matua Nigel Lineham

By tauira / student Tiaki Sharp