While speeches are traditionally delivered in front of a live audience, the Waikato regional competition of the Race Relations Speech awards held in mid-April 2020, were presented via Zoom due to NZ’s Covid-19 lockdown.
The Race Relations Speech Competition is run by the New Zealand Police and Baha i community. It was first held in 1998 after the establishment of Race Relations Day in order to allow young people a platform to discuss what race relations in New Zealand should look like .
Open to years 11-13 students, the top speaker from each regional competition goes through to the national semi-finals vying for a place in the national final. Speeches must be between 8-10 minutes long and are scored according to the toastmaster’s marking criteria (50% content, 30% delivery, 20% language)
This year’s theme was “Titiro whakamuri, kia anga whakamua – to face the future, look to the past.”
Students were asked to address at least two of the following questions in their speech:
1. What can we learn from our ancestors and the leaders of the past about how to eradicate racial prejudice?
2. How might we commemorate events in our past in a way that helps bring about justice and unity today?
3. What do you think race relations in Aotearoa should look like 20 years from now, and what do we need to do now to secure this future?
4. What do New Zealand’s leaders and people of influence need to do to support young people in their efforts to improve race relations?
David Koshy, Diya Kurien, Gretel Muir, Sarah Wikara and Ethan Bidois competed in this year’s Waikato regional competition and three came away with the top three places – Diya Kurien in third place, Gretel Muir in second and Sarah Wikara winning the competition.
Teacher-in-charge, Mrs Heidi Lewis said while it was unusual for students to be presenting through Zoom on a digital platform, they all looked comfortable on the camera.
“Each of their speeches was unique and compelling. I have no doubt we will see some of them as future leaders or initiators on a national platform in some capacity in the future,” says Mrs Lewis.
Sarah Wikara will now proceed to the national semi-finals in mid-May. We wish her the best of luck.