Teenager’s ko¯rero comes out on top
For the first time in 20 years Jay Mclaren-harris has done what no other Tokoroa High School student has been able to.
The 18-year-old placed first in the impromptu Senior English category and third overall in the Senior English category during the coveted Nga¯ Manu Ko¯rero 2017 National Secondary School Speech Contests.
Jay said he couldn’t be more pleased as it was his final year of competing in the annual competition. He won the Waikato Region round in July.
‘‘It was a great experience,’’ he said.
‘‘Politics was the topic this year. It was election year, about two days out from the election, so it was quite good.’’
‘‘The kaupapa of my ko¯rero was basically going against the status quo. The Government had had nine years to fix all these problems and was just now releasing policies to fix things.’’
‘‘I talked about looking at everyday life and how the National Party weren’t supporting Maori whereas Labour, the Green Party and Maori Party were.’’
‘‘I got a lot of good feedback with a perfect score of 100,’’ he said.
Tokoroa High School dean of Te Rito Keinan Ngapo said unlike some of the other competitors, talking about politics came naturally for the aspiring politician.
‘‘A lot of the speakers didn’t have the expertise to be able to turn the topic around to offer both pros and cons,’’ he said.
‘‘He was able to offer a lot more than others could in terms of giving perspective. He started off going against the grain and showing a situation isn’t always positive, there are pros and cons, but more so he was able to spin it around at the end and say at the end of the day the solution to everything, whether it be politics, law, education, or social issues, comes down to the people.’’
‘‘If the numbers are not there, if the people are not there, and if we don’t use our Democratic right to vote and change things, change will never come.’’
‘‘It was 20 years ago, 1997, the last time the trophy was in the school so to see Jay take out that top prize was awe inspiring,’’ he said.
Principal William Ford said it was an impressive achievement.
‘‘It is a huge honour for us. I am really proud and he is a very good speaker and a good role model for other students,’’ he said.
Tokoroa’s Jay Mclaren-harris.