Bahai News -- New Zealand Listener - A world of difference

A world of difference

by Felicity Monk

THE VOICE OF REASON can emerge from the most unlikely places. Throw the topic of racial intolerance out there for debate and usually it's academics' theories, politicians' policies and minority groups' pleas that we hear.

Rarely do we learn what youth are thinking. Rarely do we ask.

But give them an opportunity and a platform to let them speak their minds and prepare to be impressed. Certainly in this case, anyway.

The Hedi Moani Memorial Speech Awards were held in Auckland in March. Now in its third year, the competition, in support of Race Relations Day, is open to students in the last three years of high school. The topic was "From the head to the heart – beyond tolerance to the cele-bration of human diversity", and 40 students from 31 schools entered. There were seven finalists at the event, in which Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres was guest speaker and predecessor Dr Rajen Prasad was chief judge. And National Radio will be broadcasting each finalist's speech over the next seven weeks.

The winner, Xavier Black from Diocesan School in Auckland, won $750 and a shield. In her speech, she said that the key to transforming racism into racial harmony was the hokey tokey. Borrowing the solution from the Swami's State of the Universe address, she said, "I want you to put your whole self in – that is commitment. Now put your whole self out – that is detachment. Now turn yourselves around – that is transformation. You can transform the world by doing the hokey tokey."

She went on to say, "While we cannot change the inclination to be afraid of difference … we can change how we as human beings … deal with difference and manage our lives, aware of race. We need to shift our thoughts from mere tolerance. We need to embrace this as an opportunity to celebrate difference."

The award is sponsored by the Hedi Moani Charitable Trust and the New Zealand Baha'i community. Born an Iranian, Moani was a Baha'i member who, during his 16 years in New Zealand, actively promoted positive race relations and was instrumental in setting up Race Relations Day. He was deeply involved with the Maori community and had a close relationship with the people of Ratana Pa.

In October 1998, age 54, he was beaten to death in his home by a mentally ill man. The Hedi Moani Memorial Speech Award was established to honour his name and to continue his race relations work in New Zealand.

In Touch with New Zealand, National Radio, Thursdays, 4.00pm


You just can't please some people. Poor Sergey Prokofiev composed a concerto especially for a one-armed pianist – who was on a personal crusade to create a repertoire of left-handed piano music – and the thanks he got came in the form of this note: "Thank you for the concerto, but I do not understand a single note and I shall not play it."

That from Viennese Paul Wittgenstein (who lost his right arm on the Russian front in World War I) in his somewhat ungracious rejection of Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No 4. Prokofiev never managed to modify it for two hands and it languished until 1956, when German Siegfried Rapp – who lost his right arm on the Russian front, but in World War II – premiered the work.

Concert FM is broadcasting the Auckland Philharmonia's performance of Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No 4 (with Michael Houstoun as soloist), along with Tchaikovsky's Francesca da Rimini and Rachmaninov's Symphonic Dances Op 45 in concert at Auckland's Aotea Centre.

Music Alive, Concert FM, Thursday, 8.00pm


A nation obsessed with rugby? Who us? In tribute to Christian Cullen's ousting from the All Blacks and subsequent move to Munster, Ireland, ZM is offering to help "Cullen addicts" to go and live there, too. It will pay for one-way flights and provide assistance with immigration requirements. It will also cover relocation costs for at least one family pet. All you have to do is change your name by deed poll to Christian Cullen. So far, interest has come mostly from poor – and clearly desperate – students wanting to go off on their OEs. All Christian Cullens, including the original, will be heading for their new home later in the year.

©Copyright 2003, New Zealand Listener (New Zealand)

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