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Shaping Youth Statement on Race Relations in Aotearoa New Zealand

12 April 2019

The Wellington Race Unity Hui brought together high school students, young professionals and university students and youth representatives of multicultural councils to discuss how we can build race unity in Aotearoa.
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).
Aidan MacLeod (New Zealand Baha'i Community) facilitated a panel discussion between Pancha, policy advisor and advocate Martine Udahemuka, and student activist Jack Liang. The discussion delved into how 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.
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 few youth and young adults from the Baha'i Community.
Next came a presentation and workshop on the Youth Aotea-Reo project, run by service designer Ross (Roshan) Patel. The workshop looked at how the great insights and ideas generated so far by the project could be used to benefit the youth of Aotearoa. Then came 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 Baha'i 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.
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 10-11 May in Auckland. The Speech Awards are organised by the Baha'i Community with sponsorship with NZ Police and the Human Rights Commission, and support from other organisations including Multicultural NZ.
A National Race Unity Hui will be held on 11 May in conjunction with the National Final of the Speech Awards. Anyone interested in attending can register via


Shaping Youth Statement on Race Relations in Aotearoa New Zealand

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