07 Jun Joseph shines at Manu Kōrero

The annual regional Ngā Manu Kōrero competitions were held on Friday 25th May at the Headingly Centre in Richmond where schools from across the Top of the South were represented by their speakers and kapa haka groups.

This year Te Kareti o Neirana (Nayland College) was represented by Year 12 speaker Joseph Meleisea and the whānau class who performed in support of him. The large group and rousing haka were a far cry from the three students te reo teacher Whaea Chanel Ngaruhe last took with her to the competition in 2016.

Joseph competed in the Korimako section for senior English speakers. He delivered a powerful, emotional and thought-provoking speech on his chosen topic: ‘The best project I will ever work on is me’.

“It was more or less about how this is still my project and if you want to see me not for me but just for my skin and my colour, (…) I’m going to push through that and push through the odds no matter what you say or do,” Joseph said.

“Theoretically I’m the boy who shouldn’t really be good at anything but sports and stuff but it’s not supposed to be like that. So it’s about travelling my own pathway and being that first person for other people like me.”

Joseph chose to write and perform his speech in slam poetry style, using rhyme and a lot of rhythm. He said that choice, along with the topic, meant that he fully connected with the ideas.

Kaiako Chanel Ngaruhe says she was “super proud” of Joseph and that he fully owned the whole process. “ I just feel like I helped to ice the cake, to put the sprinkles on the top. He was the person who prepared and baked the goods,” she said.

She was also blown away by the conduct of the whole whānau group. “Every single one of the students from Nayland College (…) behaved beautifully in the way that they carried themselves during the day, in the way that they spoke to people and the way that they supported their brother Joseph through haka. I was speechless at the way our students conducted themselves.” 

Though he didn’t place in the top three, possibly because of the non-traditional style of his performance, Joseph wouldn’t rule out competing again, depending on the topics.

Joseph said the support from his family who were there watching him, as well as from the whānau group, made all the difference. “It was good because the kapa haka group, those people behind me, made it a lot easier because I knew that if I messed up, they were still going to back me up. They had my back.”

Whaea Chanel has high hopes for future competitions. Ideally, she’d like to see Nayland represented by a speaker in each of the four categories: senior and junior English, and senior and junior Māori.

By Sera King – Media & Publicity