Earlier this term, I was asked to be a part of the Rehu Tai Festival of Oral Language. This was initiated by the Papakura Principals’ Association and developed by primary and secondary school principals. The event itself was hosted by Hingaia Peninsula school, and led by principal, Jane Danielson. The intention of the day was ‘to embrace and celebrate the diversity of oral language within our community, both culturally and generationally.’
The event was open to students in years 5–8 in the categories of speech, rap, flash talk, and spoken word poetry. Each category or stream had its own rubric, but were all loosely based on speech construction, presentation and delivery, content, language, and vocal inclination.
Prior to this event, participating schools held their own internal competitions in order to select their top student entrants.
What followed on the day was a variety of powerful and engaging presentations exploring the theme of, ‘Who I am’. As a judge, it was a challenge to select an eventual ‘winner’ from a group of such talented and committed individuals. It was clear that all participants had prepared and worked diligently to be at the event, and I felt privileged just to be in their company, let alone a member of a judging panel. The lead teachers from each school provided their support and guidance, which ranged from helping students to prepare their item leading up to the event, to giving them direction and cues on the actual day.