Race Relations Day – Public Debate


Upper Hutt saw in yet another great Race Relations Day this March 21st, celebrating positive race relations in New Zealand. Upper Hutt Multicultural Council held the first annual Race Relations Day Interschool Debate, generously hosted by the Upper Hutt Library on the Tuesday afternoon. Two passionate senior teams from Heretaunga College and St Patricks College came together in front of a curious audience to debate whether or not “New Zealanders have embraced multiculturalism”. The students were strong and articulate in their presentations, and gave everyone pause to reflect on their own attitudes toward the other cultures they share their neighbourhoods with.

“Can you name three things about Filipino culture?” A St Pats debater had asked his team mate – he himself a proud Filipino – as they argued against the moot. No, he could not. Heretaunga came in strong as well, showcasing the growing number of cultural festivals New Zealand enjoys, as well as the curious and inclusive attitude of New Zealanders that lies at the foundation of cultural integration.

HIBS student and National School Debating Team member Samuel Penno chaired the event, and when the debaters concluded he introduced the Chief Human Rights Commissioner David Rutherford, who shared a few simple but powerful words on combatting racism, and every individual’s ability to create great change through small actions. The event was judged by Hutt MP Chris Bishop, who is notorious among Wellington debaters as a sharp debater himself, who concluded that although both teams acknowledged the multicultural make-up of New Zealand, and the profound value in embracing it, St Pats won the day through by pointing at that we haven’t yet wholly embraced our diversity.

The debate was thoroughly enjoyed by all who participated, and UHMCC is looking forward to a bigger and better tournament next year with more local schools involved.

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