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Hamilton High School student takes out top Race Unity Speech

Hamilton High School student takes out top Race Unity Speech Award

Hillcrest High School student Naomi Kumar's dream for Aotearoa New Zealand has won her the top award at the 2013 Race Unity Speech Awards, held in Auckland at the weekend.

The Year 13 student was one of more than 200 students around the country who have kept audiences spellbound in recent weeks, with speeches on their dream for Aotearoa.

The competition was held in 12 regions across the country, with the top eight contestants competing in the final on Saturday night in Manurewa, to coincide with the annual Race Unity Conference.

General Manager of Maori, Pacific and Ethnic Services Superintendent Wally Haumaha says the annual speech contest is held to mark Race Relations Day and was initiated in 2001 by the Bahai community.

It is sponsored by Police, the Human Rights Commission and the Office of Ethnic Affairs.

Superintendent Haumaha says, "Our vision is safer communities together, regardless of what country you were born in or the colour of your skin. These awards remain a really powerful tool for breaking down barriers and promoting unity in our communities."

"Police have continued to support this event as it provides an opportunity for our talented youth to spread their message on how to achieve positive race relations. These inspirational youth are the calibre of leaders we are targeting to join the New Zealand Police. Their deep insight and realisations on a complex topic highlights that our youth have the solutions to make society safer."

Naomi's award-winning speech touched on her Indian heritage.

"I can't take off my skin just as easily as I can take off my bindi. I can't scrub away years of internalised anxieties the way I can wash off my henna. But I can learn to love myself because what I have is a strong support network of whanau and community...Cultures are part of each and every one of us, woven into our very identities...I am a Kiwi, just as much as I am Indian.And Hindu.And Christian."

Wally Haumaha says, "This year we had a number of inspirational youth who entered the awards. Naomi Kumar was a very worthy winner and we look forward to her and her fellow contestants realising their dreams."


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