Speech Awards

Theme 2019: Speaking for Justice, Working for Unity


How to enter


The timeline for next year (2020) will be posted on this website later this year.


regional representatives


Congratulations to the regional representatives for 2019. They are:

Area Name of Student School
Northland Sophie Saweirs Whangarei Girls' High School
Auckland Takunda Muzondiwa Mount Albert Grammar School
Waikato Michael Echague St John's College
Tauranga & Western BoP Madison Mackenzie Otumoetai College
Central North Island Jimah Ruland-Umata Rotorua Boys' High School
Taranaki Robbie White New Plymouth Boys' High School
Gisborne/Wairoa Rata Simperingham Campion College
Hawkes Bay Rachel Mae Torreno Karamu High School
Manawatu/Whanganui Shaye WitehiraManukura
Lower North Island Nina Gelashvili Kuranui College
Upper South Island Samantha Mayne Marlborough Girls' College
North Canterbury Aneska Heidemueller Hillmorton High School
Central South Island Jan Campomanes Twizel Area School
Otago Trixie-Marie Bull Aparima College


Robbie White, New Plymouth Boys' High School

Robbie’s speech cited examples of past and present New Zealand leaders who have helped to forge unity in Aotearoa. Robbie used the metaphor of a tui building a nest to explain how to unify people of different backgrounds.

National Runner Up

Nina Gelashvili, Kuranui College 

Nina spoke of using four principles to guide New Zealand towards race unity - inclusion, acceptance, love and education - which we can take ownership of by following the principles and passing them down to the next generation to ensure a better future.   


The judges, the criteria


Marks are allocated as follows:

  • Content (50%), delivery (30%) and language (20%)

However, in marking the speeches, judges are asked to note if any:

  • are presented in a particularly creative or original manner

  • are especially inspirational or motivational

  • contain realistic and practical suggestions for improving race relations in Aotearoa/New Zealand.

Judges are encouraged to confer together to determine the final outcome, especially if the marks between the top two or three students are very close. In that case, other considerations (such as those mentioned above) could possibly tip the balance in a particular student’s favour!

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.


Students have participated in the Speech Awards since 2001


People have listened to these speeches in person


Views of these speeches online


Police officers, academics, government officials and other people of influence have served as judges of the Speech Awards

Information for teachers


We’ve developed a pack of resources to help teachers support students interested in the Race Unity Speech Awards and Hui. These resources can also be used for any class or group of students interested in exploring contemporary race relations issues.

The Speech Awards provide an opportunity for students to develop the key competencies outlined in the curriculum:

  • Thinking skills – learning to use creative, critical, and meta-cognitive processes to make sense of information, experiences and ideas.

  • Managing self – self-motivation, a “can-do” attitude, and with students seeing themselves as capable learners.

  • Relating to others – the ability to listen actively, recognise different points of view, negotiate, and share ideas.

  • Participating and contributing – developing the capacity to contribute appropriately as a group member, to make connections with others in the group.  

The Race Unity Hui is also a great opportunity for students to learn about race relations issues. In past years a number of teachers have brought whole classes of students to the Hui, with great benefits for the students and the others attending the Hui.

Participation in the Speech Awards and Hui can be used as the basis for assessments and classroom activities in a range of subject areas, such as English, te reo Māori and Social Studies.

Race Unity Testimonial Student
Race Unity Testimonial Teacher
Race Unity testimonial parent