The national Ngā Manu Kōrero speech competition begins in Porirua today marking 50 years since the contest began.
Secondary school students compete in junior or senior level English and Maori speaking divisions.
Ngā Manu Kōrero was established in 1965 to encourage the eloquent use of the English language by Maori secondary school students.
Organiser and former competitor Te Mākao Bowkett said it had a magnificent history and legacy.
"The taonga that are part of the kaupapa for Ngā Manu Kōrero represent significant leaders in Maori society over the years who have made their mark and now left those important qualities about retaining things Maori, and also showcasing our ability to be competent in the English language and to comment on issues of relevance and import for young Maori people in New Zealand today."
A special dinner will be held tonight to celebrate the competition's 50th birthday attended by past winners including Julian Wilcox, Tamati Waaka and Donna Awatere.
Te Mākao Bowkett says some previous winners will be speaking to guests tonight and to competitors on Tuesday. The winners will be drawn on Thursday.