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Kakapo, weta and whio great topics for speeches

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

"[Our species] are our national monuments. They are our Tower of London, our Arc de Triomphe, our pyramids. We don’t have ancient architecture that we swoon over in wonder, but what we do have is something that is far, far older than that.

"No one else has kiwi, no one else has kākāpō. They have been around for millions of years, if not thousands of millions of years. And once they are gone, they are gone forever. And it’s up to us to make sure they never die out."

That quote from noted New Zealand Kiwi conservationist Don Merton is the starting point for an estimated 2000 children across Hawke’s Bay researching biodiversity, preparing speeches and practising their delivery ahead of the region’s annual speech competition.

The year 5 to 8 students are competing within their schools to be chosen to deliver their speech in the finals of the Hillmac Electrical Junior and Intermediate Speech Contests on stage at The National Aquarium of New Zealand in Napier next term.

For the second year in a row the topic is biodiversity: New Zealand’s endemic and native species.

Anna Coleman, confidence coach and director of the Confidence Company, has organised the competition for the last four years. "I’m passionate about building oral language skills. We can do that by teaching children how to research a topic and then structure and deliver a speech. This is not about reading out a script, it is about learning how to give a compelling speech that captures your audience - it is a fantastic skill for our children to learn."

For the second year in a row, the contest is partnered with Biodiversity Hawke’s Bay. "It is a perfect fit for us," says Biodiversity Hawke’s Bay sponsorship manager Sam Jackman. "It raises awareness of the our endemic and native species, our taonga, many of which are critically endangered."

Ms Coleman says the topic achieves two aims: "Highlighting how many of our species are endangered and giving students plenty of scope for their speeches."

About 20 schools from across Hastings, Napier and Wairoa are expected to be involved, says Ms

Coleman. "The aim is to grow the Hillmac Electrical Intermediate School Speech Contest so it’s in our DNA, in the schools’ calendars and it becomes what we do here in term three."

Hillmac Electrical and Kiwibank have sponsored the competitions for the last three years. Hillmac Electrical chief executive Mike Hill says building confidence and communication skills is important for every industry. "We place real importance on communication within our work teams. We believe it is important to sponsor this contest as our way of helping grow confident kids in the Bay."

The junior speech competition will be held on August 29 and the intermediate competition on September 5, both running from 6.30pm to 8pm at the National Aquarium of New Zealand, Marine Parade, Napier.

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