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September 2010
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Youth offer solutions for race issues

Race Unity Speech Award participants from as far back as 2004

gather with MP Pansy Wong and representatives of Police and the Human Rights Commission at the Beehive. They prepared a statement on race relations as part of the competition’s tenth anniversary
Photo: NZ Police

Young leaders are thinking innovatively about race unity, causing agencies to sit up and take notice.

Past winners and finalists of the Race Unity Speech Award, co-sponsored by Police, met at Police National Headquarters to produce a Statement on Race Relations last month.

The three-hour workshop was part of celebrations marking the speech awards’ tenth anniversary. The statement was read out at a function at the Beehive by Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres, who said he would like to include it in the Commission’s annual report to bring a youth perspective to other organisations.

Police have been involved in the awards since they were established in 2000.

Each police district runs a regional competition and local commanders take part in judging and prize giving.

The awards have brought debate about race issues into schools and households, and given young people a voice across the country, says Superintendent Wally Haumaha, National Manager of Māori, Pacific and Ethnic Services.

Young people’s thinking has been pushed beyond a ‘live and let live’ sense of tolerance to ideas that will actively develop racial harmony, he says.

This was summed up in the Statement on Race Relations, which says initiatives to create racial tolerance need to take place at all levels of community and follow themes of collaboration, participation and empowerment.

“These people represent the spirit and hope for all our futures,” says Wally.

“Celebrating their diversity is part of them leading successful, productive lives.”

Many participants in the speech awards have been inspired to seek a career in rights issues, such as HR, law and Police.

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