Race unity crucial for young NZers

Race unity crucial for young NZers

March 17, 2015

The Human Rights Commission is urging young people from all cultures to take part in or attend the upcoming Race Unity Speech Competitions taking place across the country at the end of March.

“Our changing face is younger and more ethnically diverse than ever before. Positive race relations shouldn’t be things our young people read about in class: they must live it every day,” said Dame Susan.

“We live in one of the most peaceful nations on earth but can’t afford to take this for granted: it’s something we’re all responsible for,” said Dame Susan.

“The Race Unity speech competition is a real way young people can talk about race relations – talking about how we can get on better with one another.”

“I’d like more young people to take part in the Race Unity speech competition and to attend events like Waitangi Day and Holocaust Memorial services,’ said Dame Susan.

“Holocaust survivors tell us that hate starts small, but so too does hope. Standing up for one another, having brave conversations is what we need to be having more of. It’s not them and us: it’s us.”

This year’s Race Relations Day theme “Big Change Starts Small” is based on the winning speech from last year’s national final winner, Vietnamese Kiwi, Thai An Vo. The te reo Maori theme is the proverb “Itiiti Rearea, Kahika Teitei, Ka Taea” – the smallest bellbird is able to climb to the heights of the tallest Kahika tree

“Thai An Vo’s winning speech captures the spirit of positive race relations: big change does start small. Positive race relations don’t just live in a document in the United Nations – they have to live in our communities, suburbs and lives,” said Dame Susan.

The annual Race Unity speech competition was launched by New Zealand’s Baha’i community to honour the late Hedi Moani, a peace activist and Baha’i community member.

“Hedi was an Iranian Kiwi who urged fellow Kiwis to celebrate race relations. Every year the Race Unity Speech Competition run by the Baha’i community honours Hedi’s work to celebrate oratory, youth and race unity,” said Dame Susan.

The NZ Police are a key sponsor and partner for the Race Unity Speech Awards. Race Relations Day is celebrated by communities across New Zealand in the weeks before and following the 21st March 2015.

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