How to enter

Michael McLeod, Regional Winner, New Plymouth Sector

Registration for the 2018 Race Unity Speech Awards has closed and regional heats have already been held.  The national semi-finals will be held on Friday 11 May, with the national final taking place the following afternoon – starting at 4.30pm on Saturday 12 May.

The timeline for the 2019 competition will be posted on this website later this year.

The competition is for senior high school students in years 11, 12 and 13.

Congratulations to the regional winners for 2018!   They are :

  1. Northland:  Tamika (Tammy) Smith, Whangarei Girls’ High School
  2. Auckland:    to be announced
  3. Waikato:      to be announced
  4. Rotorua/Taupo:  Oliva Temm, John Paul College, Rotorua
  5. Gisborne: Rongonui-Atea Kahurangi, Gisborne Boys’ High School
  6. Hawkes Bay: Hena Dugh, Hasting Girls’ High School
  7. New Plymouth, South Taranaki & Stratford: Jessica Mehana, Sacred Heart Girls’ College, New Plymouth
  8. Palmerston North, Whanganui and Manawatu: Zoha Shuaib, Palmerston North Girls’ High School
  9. Wellington/Lower North Island: Seema Singh, Sacred Heart College, Wellington
  10. North Canterbury: Te Hinenga Te Hemi, Te Pā o Rākaihautū, Christchurch
  11. Central South Island: Hannah-Faith Falealili, Ashburton College
  12. Dunedin: Ryan Lau, Otago Boys’ High School, Dunedin

How speeches are judged

Speeches must be between 7 – 8 minutes long and can be delivered in either Maori or English. Any speech less than 6 1/2 minutes or more than 8 1/2 minutes may result in the contestant being disqualified.  All contestants are required to provide an electronic copy of their speech prior to competing.

The allocation of marks is based on the Toastmasters’ model: Content 50%; Delivery 30%; use of language 20%. However, if a student demonstrates particular creativity or originality in presenting their speech; if the speech is particularly inspirational / motivational; or if it contains realistic and practical suggestions for improving race relations in Aotearoa/New Zealand, this will be reflected in the judges’ marking.  Visual aids are not permitted.


At the regional level and for the national semi-finals there will normally be three judges, often including a member of the NZ Police, the Human Rights Commission and, where possible, the Office of Ethnic Communities. For the national final there are usually five judges, representing the NZ Police, the Human Rights Commission, the Office of Ethnic Communities, the Speech Communications Association, and Māori.

Feedback from Police Inspector serving as a Judge

“Can I thank you and the organisation for allowing me the privilege of sitting in and judging …. There was some great talent on display and competition was really tough. It was most enjoyable and a fantastic learning experience. You mentioned Police as the major sponsor and I can see why our organisation continues to be part of this.”