Winning girl Te Hinenga te Hemi with the carved trophy. L to R: Avonside Girls’ High School principal Sue Hume, Waitangi Treaty Grounds Education Manager Monika Kern, Te Hinenga Te Hemi, Tracy Te Hemi, Hemi Te Hemi

The winner of the nationwide Waitangi Day speech competition was announced in Christchurch on 6 November. Te Hinenga Te Hemi from Avonside Girls’ High School in Christchurch wrote the winning speech, with Sophia Zhang from St Cuthbert’s College finishing as the runner-up. The theme for the speech competition was: “What does Waitangi Day mean to me?”

Avonside Girls’ High School Coordinator Francesca Hickey commented: “Te Hinenga is very community minded and a respected leader among her peers. She has been chosen to attend several youth leadership events. She came first equal in Year 9 in Avonside Girls’ Junior Speech Competition with an entertaining speech outlining why her younger brother should be chosen to go on a mission to Mars. Part of her reasoning was that they would only be able to communicate via satellite!”

Runner up: Sophia Zhang with Waitangi Treaty Grounds Education Officer Roylena Tzikoucos

Waitangi Treaty Grounds Education Manager Monika Kern said: “We only announced this competition in July, and to receive high quality entries in such a short time has been really rewarding. Young people from a wide range of backgrounds have taken the opportunity to share what Waitangi Day means to them, and I have been really impressed by the depth of their thoughts and their eloquence in expressing themselves. Te Hinenga’s speech in particular showed how relevant Waitangi Day, and what it stands for, is to young and not so young people”.

The winning student receives return travel for two to the Bay of Islands with Air New Zealand, accommodation at Kingsgate Hotel Autolodge Paihia courtesy of Westpac NZ, attendance at Waitangi Day functions on the 5th and 6th February, and the opportunity to deliver the winning speech at Waitangi. The winner also receives a certificate, a taonga and a carved trophy for their school to display for 9 months. The runner-up will receive a certificate and a taonga.

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