Manawatu Standard

Paddling together and individual­ly

- George Heagney

Manawatu¯ teen Tui-aroha Fransen knows celebratin­g individual cultural identity is still a crucial part of working together.

The 17-year-old Manukura student was the winner of Manawatu¯’s race unity speech competitio­n at the Palmerston North City Library last week and has qualified for the national final later in the year.

This year’s theme was ‘‘Kia kotahi te hoe – paddle as one’’ and Fransen said an important message in her speech was ‘‘paddling as one with all our difference­s intact’’. Paddling as one encouraged people to find their similariti­es and difference­s, she said.

For her speech Fransen took inspiratio­n from the song Melting Pot by When The Cat’s Away, which talked about different races and reflects how far New Zealand has come. The song wasn’t well known to her generation, but her parents knew the song.

Fransen also based her speech on the experience­s of her and her family being exposed to racism.

She got emotional while delivering the speech. Her grandfathe­r had come to New Zealand from the Netherland­s, and he became heavily involved in her grandmothe­r’s Ma¯ori culture.

‘‘This simple example of embracing other cultures gives me hope for the future,’’ she said.

She likened paddling as one to an awa (river), where the aim was to paddle together towards the same cause of unity, but questioned whether everyone needed to be on the same waka to get there.

‘‘People are on their own journeys of cultural identity and working out where they fit in the world. It is important to celebrate and acknowledg­e our individual­ity and individual stories.

‘‘To paddle as one is to work as one with acceptance. Not enforcing our beliefs upon others, but understand­ing each other as individual­s, within the human race.’’

She wanted to determine her own path and challenged others to do the same.

Winning the Manawatu¯ competitio­n had been a surprise, and she wanted to have a good go at the national finals and ‘‘speak her truth’’.

 ?? WARWICK SMITH/STUFF ?? Manukura student TuiAroha Fransen won the Manawatu¯ race unity speech competitio­n.
WARWICK SMITH/STUFF Manukura student TuiAroha Fransen won the Manawatu¯ race unity speech competitio­n.

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