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Young kōhine shine at regional competition

Marlborough students have done their whānau, schools, communities and iwi proud, returning from the regional Ngā Manu Kōrero speech competition in Richmond with taonga in hand.

Young kōhine shine at regional competition Marlborough Girls’ College students Te Ao Marama Nepia, left, and Jemma Hart with taonga brought back from the regional Ngā Manu Korero Māori speech competition in Richmond. Te Ao Marama will now represent Te Tauihu at the Ngā Manu Kōrero National Competition in Gisborne later this year.

In only her first year at college—and her first time entering the prestigious secondary school Māori speech competition—year 9 Marlborough Girls’ College student Te Ao Marama Nepia (Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō, Rangitāne, Ngāti Kuia, Tūwharetoa) took out the Willie Luke Memorial Trophy in the Rawhiti Ihaka Junior Māori section at the May 26 competition, marking the first time this trophy has been won by a Marlborough Girls’ College student. Te Ao Marama will now represent Te Tauihu (the top of the South) at the National Ngā Manu Korero competition to be held in Houhoupiko, Gisborne from September 18 to 20. The national finals will be hosted by Te Tairawhiti.

Te Ao Marama spoke on the topic, “Māku ano tōku ao e waihanga (I will build my own world)” using examples of her tīpuna, and how they had forged their own paths. Meanwhile, Jemma Hart (Ngāti Porou, Te Whānau-A-Apanui), who is in her final year at Marlborough Girls’ College, won the Hine Takoto Wai Trophy in the Korimako – Impromptu Senior section at the event held at Waimea College. She also brought home the Te Riu Louisa Stafford Trophy for entering both the Korimako and Pei Te Hurunui sections.

Marlborough Boys’ College student Lucas Baker (Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō, Ngāti Kuia, Rangitane) also impressed, placing third in the Senior English section. Marlborough Girls’ College te Reo kaiako Louisa King said the students had put in the hard work and impressed on stage in front of a crowd of about 200.

“Students of Marlborough Boys’ and Girls’ colleges represented Marlborough with pride and poise. E poho kererū ana tēnei whaea i tā rātou mahi rangatira. Our kōhine carried the mana of their school very well and should be proud of their efforts,” Ms King said.

The taonga brought back from the regional competition were welcomed onto Omaka Marae in Blenheim last week with a pōhiri attended by college students, kaiako and young rangatahi, helping to inspire the next generation of te Reo speakers. The taonga will be welcomed at Marlborough Girls’ College at a later

Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō Cultural Advisor Kiley Nepia said the wins at the Manu Kōrero regional level were a great achievement and it was important the taonga were welcomed and acknowledged appropriately. “This is how their legacy continues,” he said.

“These young people are the next generation of storytellers.”

Ngā Manu Kōrero has been running since 1965 and covers four categories: Pei Te Hurinui Jones – Senior Māori, Korimako – Senior English, Te Rāwhiti Ihaka - Junior Māori and Sir Turi Carroll - Junior English. 

Competitions are held at three levels – school, regional and national. To attend the regional contest, which included schools from Te Tau Ihu, students had to enter school contests earlier in the year.


For more information contact:

Whaia Louisa King

Marlborough Girls’ College
P: +64 3 520 8448 ext. 889

Kiley Nepia
Cultural Advisor

Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō Trust
P: +64 027 5789 256


1. The Ngā Manu Kōrero national speech competition has been held annually since 1965. The competition, now it in its 53rd year, is aimed at encouraging the development of skills and confidence of Māori secondary students in spoken Māori and English and commemorates Dr Pei Te Hurinui Jones, a Waikato elder and scholar who died in 1976.

2. Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō Trust is a supporter of the regional competition, along with other Te Tauihu iwi.

3. Please note ‘Te Tauihu’ (the top of the South) should be rendered as two words, not three (as in “Te Tau Ihu”).

4. For more photos or video, please email  

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