"I'm enormously pleased for Hato Paora. We've got really good leadership throughout the school. I owe an enormous amount of gratitude to the principal, Tihirau Shepherd."
Dr Black, head of Maori Language at Massey University said there were many others in the region who had contributed to the development of his boys. At the announcement of prizes, the student's school would rise to do an impromptu haka, often joined by other schools.
After Whitiaua was announced the overall winner, he left the building to be met by a contingent of students from Hato Petera in Auckland and Te Aute in Hawke's Bay who let rip with a haka to honour him.
"We heard this resounding haka. It was explosive. The All Blacks should have been at the competition last night - they would have learned how to do a proper haka. The people make the selection. That's what they were doing," said Dr. Black.
While many students used the foreshore debate as a theme for the speeches, Whitiaua threw down the gauntlet for a Ministry of Maori Youth to address their needs in education and other areas. The suggestion met with spontaneous applause from the young crowd and he asked for support for a motion, which he got.
"The judges were floored. There was resounding acceptance. I don't know what I'm going to do with this guy," Dr. Black laughed.
He appears to be taking his father's advice though. "Before he got up on the stage (for his speech) he said, `Dad, have you got anything to say?' I told him, `Dr Pei Te Hurinui Jones was a scholar. Live up to that.' "
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(Post note - Whitiaua is hot property and so talented that last year, he recieved a full scholarship to attend Rotorua Boys High School - one of the top Rugby and academic schools for Boys in NZ. Fortunately for Hato Paora, Whitiaua turned the offer down. He wanted to stay at his kura Hato Paora!
Tena koutou, Taiarahia ko to whanau, e whakanui ana i to tatou kura a Hato Paora! E hapai ana i nga Kura Maori Motuhake o te Motu - kei ngaro a Moa! Whaia, whaia, whaia te tika!)