Wellington Race Unity Hui and Speech Awards
The Wellington Race Unity Hui brought together high school students, young professionals, university students and youth representatives of multicultural councils to discuss how we can build race unity in Aotearoa.
The heart of the Hui was nearly two hours of small group discussions, where the participants shared their thoughts on how we can build unity and stand up for justice. The insights from these discussions will help shape a youth statement on race relations, to be released publicly in May 2019. The discussions were facilitated by young leaders from around the Wellington region, including a number of youth and young adults from the Bahá’í community.
A few insights reverberated throughout the small group discussions. One such key insight was the importance of creating more social spaces - particularly for young people - where race relations and race unity can be discussed. The youth suggested that these spaces should be shaped by a common purpose, reflect the diversity of our society, and provide people an opportunity to build meaningful relationships and identify shared values. This emphasis on relationships carried over to discussions about individual action: a posture of listening, empathy and trust was identified as a key to change in individual hearts and minds.
Another highlight was a panel discussion facilitated by Aidan MacLeod (New Zealand Bahá’í community). The panel featured community leader and management consultant Pancha Narayanan, policy advisor and advocate Martine Udahemuka, and student activist Jack Liang. The discussion delved into what we can do to seek justice and unity in the face of racism in its various forms. The panel's diversity of age and experience yielded some great insights into how we can work for unity as individuals, as a community and as members of institutions.
In the evening the Lower North Island Race Unity Speech Awards were held. The top speakers this year were both from the Wairarapa: Parekura Pepere from Rathkeale College and Nina Gelashvili from Kuranui College. These eloquent young people will represent the lower North Island at the National Race Unity Speech Awards, to be held 10-11 May in Auckland. The Speech Awards are organised by the Bahá’í community with sponsorship from the New Zealand Police, the Human Rights Commission and the Hedi Moani Charitable Trust.
The day started with a welcome and karakia by representatives of Te Atiawa, the local iwi, and opening comments from Tribhuvan Srestha (President, Lower Hutt Multicultural Council), His Worship Ray Wallace (Mayor of Lower Hutt), Dr Paul Hunt (Chief Human Rights Commissioner) and Pancha Narayanan (President of Multicultural New Zealand).
The Hui also included a workshop on the Youth Aotea-Reo project, run by service designer Ross (Roshan) Patel, artistic workshops by performers Sam Manzana and Bohemian Thanni, and a workshop on using 'respectful relationships' to respond to racial prejudice by Rob McCann of White Ribbon NZ.
The Hui was a joint initiative of Multicultural NZ and the New Zealand Bahá’í community. MC Peter-Clinton Foaese (Office of the Children's Commissioner) kept things moving and kept the participants engaged, and members of the Lower Hutt Multicultural Council were behind the scenes providing transport and making sure things ran smoothly.
The National Race Unity Hui will be held on Saturday 11 May at Te Mahurehure Marae, Pt Chevalier, Auckland. Registrations are open until 4 May at https://national-race-unity-hui-2019.lilregie.com/