Influential Orators at the Girls' School Rehu Tai Festival of Oral Language

August 03, 2023 at 2:15 PM

In the pursuit of progress, communication stands as the bedrock of understanding, connecting individuals and inspiring collective change. At the forefront of this art lies the power of an effective speech, capable of captivating audiences, creating connections, and motivating action.

This skill took centre stage for the thirty-four finalists of the Girls' School Rehu Tai Speech Competition finals as they courageously stepped into the spotlight to share their prepared talks. In a moment that combined excitement and trepidation, these young speakers harnessed the opportunity to shape minds, influence decisions, and leave an indelible mark on the hearts of their listeners. These young voices of today will undoubtedly become the influential orators of tomorrow.

For the Year 4s, it was their first opportunity to compete in a school speech competition, and we had four incredible talks on their hobbies with poster boards to supplement their messages. The Year 5 to 8 students were asked to speak on kaitiakitanga (guardianship). Within this, the Year 5s, with a year of experience under their belt, did flash talks with slides to accompanying their speaking. The Year 6 to 8s were given the option to write either a persuasive speech or the more lyrical spoken word. The calibre of performance was extremely high, and we congratulate the finalists for their participation.  

Guest judge Mrs Del Costello commended the winners in each category for their success in writing an incredible speech and how they communicated it with the audience. In Year 4, Jayda-Belle Gonzalez-Smith animatedly expressed her love for netball while informing listeners of what they need to know before trying out the sport. Mia Hendrickson was the Year 5 winner for her convincing flash talk on climate change. Her strong visuals, reinforced with her content on the implications of our changing climate, left listeners convicted and enlightened.

The Year 6 persuasive speech winner Emelie Meier-Law performed a punchy talk, her words shaking the predominantly female audience to wake up and stand confident in their abilities. Cecilia Ma was described as one of the morning's highlights with her beautiful spoken word on stars. Her message that they are not simply balls of gas, but balls of hope, earned her the win.

In the Year 7 categories, persuasive speech winner Coco Verber-Nicols took an exciting spin on environmental guardianship that was rather timely, with Mattel in the spotlight after the success of the Barbie movie. Katelyn Klette creatively shared her experience on social media through spoken word, taking a universally understood experience and warning about its dangers.

Sophia Evans and Bree Toatelegese won the Year 8 persuasive and spoken word categories, respectively. The former also spoke of guardianship of our minds while trawling social media. The latter poetically encouraged the audience to not simply identify changes that must be made but take responsibility for the required action. As the last speech of the day, her words put the full stop to the morning with an uplifting message. Congratulations to all the winners, highlighted in bold below.

Year 4

Jayda-Belle Gonzalez-Smith                                Netball

Charlotte Dobson                                                    Ballet

Yurika Okiawa                                                         Swimming

Joanne Gao                                                             Ballet


Year 5

Mia Hendrickson                                                     Climate Change

Lara France                                                                Climate Change

Charlotte McGuiness                                                    Being a guardian of your mental health

Jade Tang                                                                    Save the ducks


Year 6 Persuasive Speech

Emelie Meier-Law                                                   Women’s Rights                

Emily Folkard                                                            Protecting my paradise

Teagan Harrison                                                        Us before AI protecting humanity


Year 6 Spoken Word

Cecilia Ma                                                                  Stars

Charlotte Ponsonby                                                Guardian Angels

Isobel Beck                                                                 Bullying

Addison Aves                                                             Open your eyes


Year 7 Persuasive Speech

Coco Veber-Nicols                                                  We need to stop buying toys with plastic packaging

Zoe Baker                                                                   Why we must protect our Māori language

Ellie Harrison                                                             Why every New Zealander must learn to swim

Yi Yi Jiang                                                                    Why zoos are more hurtful than helpful

Anna Lonergan                                                         Gas emissions are taking over

Farrah Palmer                                                           The guardian of sharks

Ruby Roach                                                                We need to stand up for our rights as females



Year 7 Spoken Word

Katelyn Klette                                                           Social Media

Isobel Horne                                                              Clean Air

Ava Revfeim                                                              I’m a kid


Year 8 Persuasive Speech

Sophia Evans                                                            Protecting our mental health from social media

Olivia Duff                                                                  Why we should protect our culture

Sessilis Tu’akalau                                                      The importance of endangered species

Seini Vainikolo                                                          Human beings are the cause of problems in our environment


Year 8 Spoken Word

Bree Toatelegese                                                     We can be change

Ruby Bryson                                                              I am the earth

Bella Chen                                                                  The shackles of social media

Sophia Pike                                                                Think before you buy

Kara Scouller                                                             Air pollution


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