Welcome to the 2018 Race Unity Website!

The theme for the Race Unity Speech Awards this year mimics the theme chosen by the Human Rights Commission for Race Relations Day: Give Nothing to Racism!

Regional heats have now been held from Northland to Dunedin and regional representatives selected to advance to the national semi-finals on Friday 11 May.

The students who are successful at that level will advance to the national final of the Speech Awards on Saturday 12 May.

Also on Saturday 12 May will be the national Race Unity Conference, which is open to all youth (15-30) and those who support them in their learning.  The theme for the conference is Race, Unity and Justice.

Both the national final and the Race Unity Conference are open to all at no charge, although koha is welcome.

Please browse our website to find all the information you need – full details about the National Final, the Race Unity Conference, how to register for both events, and much more.


You can also read here for information about the 2017 Speech Awards, which were contested by about 150 high school students from 14 different regions of New Zealand.  The six outstanding national finalists spoke on the subject “Say no to racism!”

Tauawhi Bonilla delivering his speech

Tauawhi Bonilla of Te Aute College, Central Hawkes Bay emerged as the winner after he challenged our idea of what makes someone a ‘kiwi’:

“I believe there are only three ingredients that you need to become a kiwi; kindness, loyalty and humility and after that, like any good chef, we can add whatever we as individuals have, like for me personally, a cup of Māoritanga, a tablespoon of Latino, a pinch of well-crafted muscles and a dash of good looks to make my own version of the same pavlova cake. We are all the same, but all unique at the same time, our unity empowers us, but our diversity strengthens us.

“…It’s unity through kindness, loyalty and humility, that is what spin the wheels of our humble little country.”

Tauawhi also urged us to address the “taniwha in the room” and start meaningful conversations about the realities of racism:

“Firstly, we need to confront our own racial biases…. If we are using racial slurs like “curry muncher” where is the unity in that? Where is the unity that we so proudly hold in our kiwi values? And if we corrupt these values, then what do we stand for?”

His win earned him $1000, as well as $1000 for his school.

You can listen to Tauawhi’s speech here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=INQrKWZe3h0


The runner-up, George Sabonadiere from Logan Park High School, Dunedin, characterised racism as a “beast” and asked us to fight racism with empathy and understanding:

“In today’s world, we’ve created, through a breakdown in the basic art of communication, an environment which allows one of humanity’s ugliest creatures to flourish. This creature goes by many names.

Racism. Discrimination. Prejudice. But these are all the same beast, a beast which feeds on our thirst for blame, whose DNA is a double helix of ignorance and fear.

“The scariest thing is that we believe we have tamed it. It cannot be tamed. … When the economy was collapsing, Hitler blamed the Jews. When industry wasn’t productive enough, Stalin went after the Poles. But the people who buy these ideas are not inherently evil. They are poisoned by fear, plagued with ignorance and blinded by hatred. So we cannot simply shun them…. Don’t feed the beast with the crumbs of intolerance. Simply understand.”

A group of students and teachers from New Plymouth Boy’s High School sang a waiata to support George’s speech, and to recognise the connection between Parihaka and Dunedin. In 1869, 74 men from Parihaka were sent to Dunedin to complete their sentence of hard labour. Eighteen of these men died during their sentence, which lasted until 1872.

You can listen to George’s speech here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z-D9u1f3KII


The speeches of the other finalists can be heard here:


The six finalists from 2017 are shown here with the judging panel:

Back row, left to right: Tayyaba Khan (Office of Ethnic Communities); Dame Susan Devoy (Race Relations Commissioner); Assistant Commissioner Wallace Haumana (NZ Police – Chief Judge); Professor Edwina Pio (Diversity Professor, AUT); Barbara Morgan (Speech Communications Association)

Front row, left to right: Tauawhi Bonilla; Rangipurei; Mortaza Sahar; Seema Singh; Tuan Khai Nguyen; George Sabonadiere






The Race Unity Speech Awards and the Race Unity Conference were initiated by the New Zealand Baha’i community in 2001 and 2005 respectively.
They are organised in support of Race Relations Day and the Diversity Action programme. See under the History tab for further information.