Race Unity Speech National runner-up

By George Sabonadire | Posted: Wednesday May 31, 2017

Congratulations to George Sabonadire who won the Otago regional competition and was runner-up in the National finals in May.

George attended the Race Unity Conference and national speech finals in Auckland.  

Below is his account of the experience:  

There’s a lot of talk about talking but very little substance behind it. There are a lot of opportunities to talk about all the talking we should be doing but very few opportunities to actually discuss something tangible - something to do instead of just to say. Right now, I’m talking about talking without actually, well, saying anything. This is a phenomenon that seems nearly inescapable in today’s world - we’re all talkers; even those of us who don’t like to talk have something to say. 

As someone who does like to talk, however, I found this experience incredibly enlightening. The Race Unity Conference and Speech Competition, run by the New Zealand Bahá’í community and the New Zealand Police, is a unique forum for discourse around race relations in Aotearoa because it goes a step further than just letting some opinionated teenagers talk for 8 minutes to a room of people; it holds them accountable to what they say. 

It wasn’t until I sat down with a group of strangers and answered some tricky questions that I actually understood what my speech meant, despite having written it myself. Coming up with actions rather than just ideas is the important and often-forgotten bridge between ideals and reality. 

This experience has given me a deep insight into the heart of race issues in New Zealand - things like deeply ingrained stereotypes and ideas around the meaning of race - that I can now bring into the Dunedin community. 

It was an honour to come in a close second place, especially to a speaker as powerful and genuine as Tauawhi Bonilla, this year’s winner. One thing that really stuck with me from this weekend was the importance of Te Reo Māori in understanding Māori tikanga, so I watch on with interest as the role of Te Reo in our curriculum is hotly debated.

Aroha mai, aroha atu.