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‘DEAR GOD…please make me white’

Aug 25th, 2009 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Latest News, News

Jahan

Rayhan Langdana (Image: Colin McDiarmid)

“DEAR God, please make me white.”

With these opening words, Wellington College year eleven student Rayhan Langdana captivated more than 150 people at last night’s Diversity Forum awards in Wellington.

Speaking mid-way through the presentation of 11 awards, he received warm applause for his nine minute speech, Good Neighbours come from all races and Cultures, which had won him the 2009 Human Rights Commission’s Race Unity speech prize earlier this year.

Rayhan’s opening sentence is a quote from a “non-European” child (not Rayhan), who prayed after another day of being bullied at school for having brown skin.

His speech described his family’s journey about building relationships with their neighbours, and how families of completely different cultures can live next to each other in perfect harmony.

The awards ceremony – hosted by Maori comedian Pio Terei – was the culmination of three days of the fifth annual Diversity Forum, which was launched in response to the desecration of Jewish graves in Wellington in 2004.

The New Zealand Diversity Action Programme was started when author James McNeish and his wife Helen led the call for a multi-party resolution in Parliament, where the attacks were deplored.

Several hundred national and local organisations are now partners in the programme.

HEAR THE SPEECH:

*Click here for an mp3 of Rayhan’s speech (8:43 – 8mb)*

Recipients of the 2009 Diversity Awards

Manurewa Marae. This is a pan-tribal, urban marae supported by Mana Whenua.

New Coasters. This group started as the West Coast Migrant Services Project in 2008, helping migrants settle and find jobs.

PEETO. The Multicultural Learning Centre is a private training establishment founded in 1991. Their aim was to respond to the English language, vocational and further study aspirations of refugees, new migrant and Pasifika peoples and also internationals students.

The Nelson Multicultural Council is a voluntary community group which organises various social activities and support services for new migrants.

FAGASA is the Association for the Teaching of Samoan in Aotearoa, its aim is to promote the maintenance and survival of the Samoan language and culture in this country.

Centre for Asian Health Research and Evaluation, University of Auckland is a research unit that focuses on mental health, lifestyle issues, barriers in accessing health and social services, and settlement and integration.

Umma Trust was established in 2003 initially to raise funds for families and children affected by the war in Iraq.

Whanganui Regional Museum is unique as it provides a genuine partnership between tangata whenua and the wider community.

Wellington City Council Libraries
are committed to recognising and celebrating the diverse Wellington community.

New Zealand Chinese Association Auckland Inc
is the longest standing and largest Chinese association in New Zealand and its vision focuses on leading New Zealand Chinese into the future.

Omega (Opportunities for Migrant Employment in Greater Auckland) works to see the Greater Auckland Region prosper by fully engaging the contributions of migrants.

There was one special award

The British Council was a co-sponsor of Race Relations Day, which brought together young artists and performers from Auckland’s ethnic communities to work with acclaimed UK string collective Urban Soul Orchestra to create an album and perform a live music show.

The show was performed at the Transmission Room in Auckland and at the WOMAD Festival in Taranaki in March, and the album was widely distributed.

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