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Big speeches on racism are small talk

Long-winding speeches and passionate outbursts on racism may be good to hear but do not carry any long-term impact, whereas positive action taken on a unified stand will achieve the desired results.

That was the gist of an award-winning speech delivered by a young Vietnamese student Thai An Vo at the annual Race Unity Speech Awards held at Te Mahurehure Marae in Point Chevalier Auckland on April 12.

“A racial friendly Aotearoa is made up of countless racial friendly relationships like mine, like yours, like ours, and there are no other shortcuts. ‘He Rau Ringa E Oti Ai‘ (With many hands, the work will be done),” he said.

Cultural understanding

More than 180 students representing various schools throughout New Zealand participated in the speech contest, centred on the theme of Racial Unity.

The speakers were required to explain how they related to race relations by interpreting a traditional Maori proverb and a quotation on unity.

Among the themes that were interpreted were appreciating cultural differences, growing together as a country and whether the Treaty of Waitangi can help all New Zealanders have a sense of belonging and connectedness.

The judging panel included Superintendent Wallace Haumaha of New Zealand Police, Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy and Office of Ethnic Affairs Director Berlinda Chin. The Race Unity Speech Awards, which was preceded by a Conference was organised by the New Zealand Bha’i Community with the sponsorship of the New Zealand Police, Hedi Moani Charitable Trust and Auckland Council, supported by the Human Rights Commission, Office of Ethnic Affairs and New Zealand Federation of Multi-cultural Councils.

The Winners

Following were the winners of the Speech Awards:

National Winner: Thai An Vo (Auckland International College); Runner Up: Alah Musa (Whangarei Girls’ High School); Regional Winners: Tishan Kahukoti (Whangarei Girls’ High School); Alah Musa; Jonathan Dawson (Sacred Heart College, Auckland); Hannah Skelton (Aquinas College, Tauranga); Sukriti Sharma (Hillcrest High School, Waikato); Vipasha Mehta (Gisborne Girls’ High School); Alexander King (Napier Boys’ High School); Hana Wainohu (Manukura School, Palmerston North); Nadia MacDonald (Wainuiomata High School, Wellington); Mahdi Osman-Penrice (Wellington College, Wellington); Junita Wopereis (Garin College, Nelson); Laura Heslop (Ellesmere College, Canterbury); Isobel Ryan (St Kevin’s College, Oamaru); Isabelle Jenkins (Otago Girls’ High).

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