Student Race Unity Speeches To Reach More Than Ever Online
A nationwide speech competition on race relations is moving online due to COVID-19, and organisers are expecting its largest audience ever after one of last year’s speakers got over 1.5 million views.
For the first time in its 20-year history the Race Unity Speech Awards are being held online and streamed live on YouTube and Facebook. This year’s Speech Awards have had over 5000 views so far during the regional and national semi-final stages. Organisers are expecting an audience of thousands for the national final this Sunday.
“We moved the Speech Awards online to make sure student views on race relations could still be heard despite the COVID-19 lockdown,” says Paddy Payne from the New Zealand Baha’i Community.
“There’s been a huge effort to make it happen and if more people than ever are listening to young people share their vision for race unity, it’s all worth it.”
Journalist and TV presenter Miriama Kamo is the MC for the national final at 10am – 1:30pm, Sunday 17 May. “I’m a former high school speech competitor so I understand it’s not easy to get up and share ideas on what is such a crucial topic – race unity in Aotearoa,” says Kamo.
The judging panel includes Deputy Police Commissioner Wallace Haumaha and Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon.
Several national finalists are expected to raise the current global COVID-19 pandemic in their speeches. Manawatu regional champion Shaye Witehira asked “Why aren’t we worried about the lives of victims of racism? … If we were to tackle racism the way in which we tackle coronavirus, I believe we could first decrease the statistics of racism before we are away with it.”
Otago regional champion Jen Marsh said, “Despite the fight against COVID-19 occurring outside these four walls, we are staying together progressing our journey to race unity through the most trying of times.”
This year’s Speech Awards also celebrate
of Youth Week (9-17 May), which has the theme “E
kōrero ana mātou. E whakarongo ana koutou? | We’re
speaking. Are you listening?” Organisers are expecting
MPs, community leaders and government officials to be among
those tuning in to the event which includes a panel
discussion (11:30am-12:45pm) with Muslim leader Tayyaba
Khan, 13 year old activist Ruby Judson, slam poet Stevie
Davis-Tana and youth mentor Allie
Last year national finalist Takunda Muzondiwa’s speech ‘Dear Racism’ was viewed more than 1.5 million times online. Muzondiwa will be a speaker at the National Race Unity Hui, held later in 2020.
About the Awards
The Race Unity Speech Awards are organised by the New Zealand Baha’i Community, a religious community concerned with promoting the oneness of humanity at the local, national and international levels. The Awards are sponsored by NZ Police (principal sponsor), the Human Rights Commission, the Office of Ethnic Communities, te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori (Māori Language Commission), Speech New Zealand, the Hedi Moani Charitable Trust, Studio Marque and the Manukau Institute of Technology.
Live streams, photos and video
Live streams will be accessible via the following links:
· www.facebook .com/raceunityaotearoa