The Māori language sections of the Wellington regional Ngā Manu Kōrero speech competition got underway today.
Tawa College student Jahneal Tirama Dawn Chapman believes that Māori should not allow the disappointments of today to cast a shadow on tomorrow's dreams for te reo Māori.
Chapman says, "Most speakers today are in the English section, but I want help to make our Māori language stronger. I am saddened that more are not in the Māori section."
The competition coincides with the launch of a new $300,000 suite of Māori language initiatives targeted at rangatahi, part of Maihi Karauna: the Crown's strategy for Māori language revitalisation.
It's an effort to reach Māori youth through 'snap-reo' or short digital language lessons, rangatahi workshops, a national youth reo Māori summit and a social marketing campaign.
Te Taura Whiri i te reo Māori chief executive Ngahiwi Apanui says, "There are many benefits but first of all we must commit to accomplishing the Maihi Karauna strategy.
"It is the responsibility of Te Puni Kōkiri, Te Māngai Pāho and Te Taurawhiri i te reo Māori to make this happen for our youth and bring the strategy to fruition."
Apanui says that the initiatives of Te Taurawhiri differ to those of Te Mātāwai.
"Our role is to advise the Crown and to guide them to revive the language," he says.
Chief executive of Te Māngai Pāho Larry Parr says, "At this present time we are not engaging with our youth so it must be a priority in time."
The set budget is $1mil but not all of that funding will go towards these initiatives.
Meanwhile, despite her concerns about the future of te reo, Chapman is focused on her speech today.
"I feel really good today, I'm so excited to stand and deliver my speech."