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The Fight Against Racism: Race Unity Speech Awards Regional Heats

In honour of Race Relations Day 2024, more than 120 teens around Aotearoa will tackle the issues of racism and discrimination through thought-provoking and powerful speeches at the annual Race Unity Speech Awards Regional Heats this week.

"It is not that society needs to give young people a voice. I believe that young people already have a voice, society just needs to listen to it,” a plea from 2023 Race Unity Speech finalist Leo Mwape.

The Race Unity Speech Awards has proudly uplifted and supported the voices of rangatahi for 24 years, providing a platform for inspirational ideas, touching personal stories and difficult conversations to be heard.

Year 11-13 students will take part in this year’s regional heats beginning March 21 to March 28, delivering speeches of up to 8 minutes long in either English or Te Reo Māori.

The topic of this year’s speech awards is Te Taura Tangata – The Rope of Unity, an invitation from former speech participants for more collaboration with the wider community on the race relations front.

Entries to the speech awards have returned to pre-Covid levels, with a 10 percent increase in registrations from 2023. Students will also be delivering Te Reo Māori speeches in Gisborne, Wellington, and Christchurch.

Media are invited to attend any of the following Regional Heat events, details can be found here:

Champions from the Regional Heats will attend the semi-final, finals, and a national hui in Auckland on May 4-5.

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About the Awards

· The New Zealand Bahá’í Community established the awards after the tragic death of race relations advocate and Bahá’í Faith member Hedi Moani.

· The New Zealand Bahá’í Community is a religious community concerned with promoting the oneness of humanity at the local, national, and international levels.

· The Hui and Speech Awards are organised by the New Zealand Bahá’í Community and are sponsored and supported by the New Zealand Police, Multicultural New Zealand, the Human Rights Commission, Manukau Institute of Technology, the Ministry for Ethnic Communities, Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori, Speech New Zealand and the Hedi Moani Charitable Trust.

Race Unity Awards by the numbers:

· 2,000 – Students have participated in the Speech Awards since 2001.

· 40,000 – People have listened to these speeches in person.

· 2 million – Views of these speeches online.

· 1,000 – Police officers, academics, government officials and other people of influence have served as judges of the Speech Awards.

YouTube Channel:


Instagram: @raceunityaotearoa

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