'Just speak up' - Wellington teen encourages others to be the change-makers in award winning speech

Lucia Tui-Bernard wants New Zealanders to be the change they want to see, not sit around and wait for the Government to fix it.

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Lucia Tui-Bernards, 16, took out the top prize at the race unity speech awards yesterday. Source: Breakfast

That’s the message from the 16-year-old’s award-winning speech which took out the top place at the Race Unity Awards yesterday. 

The year-12 student from Wellington's Tawa College, called for all secondary schools to create a race relations strategy and youth council to ensure minorities are heard. 

She began her speech with a waiata, taught to her by her “inspirational” mum.

“I used some of those phases as different points on where we are with race relations and what we can do to get to dawn. To get to a new beginning,” she told Breakfast. 

“It was a way for me to connect with my culture, with my tīpuna and sort of showed me I can do anything.” 

Tui-Bernard likened the challenges of race relations to the different dynamics in a waka, requiring a coordinated effort. 

“In a real waka, if not everyone is paddling together, it will be quite turbulent. Looking at it from a race relations point of view if not everyone is working together, listening and understanding each other, there’s going to be fights.” 

With over 120 others competing in the speech awards yesterday, Tui-Bernard felt encouraged to see so many young people finding their voice. 

“People are listening as well, which I think people need to realise, so if you have an opinion, if you want to make change, just speak up and people will hear.”