Teenager’s ko¯rero comes out on top

South Waikato News - - Your Local News - LUKE KIRKEBY

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.

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