In 1985, the Universal House of Justice addressed a message to the peoples of the world inviting them to consider that a new social order can be fostered by all peoples’ seeing themselves as members of one universal family. This message was presented to world leaders and countless others during the United Nations International Year of Peace.

In the message it said “World peace is not only possible but inevitable. It is the next stage in the evolution of this planet”.

Yet if we consider the world as it is today, we may think this is a long way off.

But more and more people, day by day, are speaking out against the destructive forces that are plaguing our planet. None more so that our youth. You may have seen the videos of Malala Yousafzai, and if you haven’t I encourage you to do so. (Refer to the ‘My Heroes’ link on my website). Malala is not alone. There are millions of youth who are making a huge contribution to making our world a better place.

I have been involved with the organisation of the Race Unity Speech Awards for the past 13 years. It is a real passion of mine, as these Awards, with contestants from years 11, 12 and 13 from secondary schools throughout the country, provide one with huge hope for the future. The speeches from many of these students are incredibly inspiring, and it is very evident that when students such as these become our world leaders, the world will quickly become a different place.

The Speech Awards have been conducted by the Baha’i Community for the last 18 years, and are now sponsored and supported by a large number of organisations including the New Zealand Police, The Human Rights Commission, UNESCO, the Office of Ethnic Communities, the NZ Federation of Multicultural Councils and the Hedi Moani Charitable Trust.

I would like to pay tribute to Bev Watson, who has been the National Coordinator of these Awards since their inception, and has been largely responsible for growing these Awards and making them so successful and well supported. I invite you to visit the Race Unity Speech Awards website where you can enjoy some of the speeches. For even more speeches, type ‘Race Unity Speech Awards’ into Google.