Video: One teen's quest for racial unity

Video: One teen's quest for racial unity

A hair-raising speech on racial unity saw one passionate head boy take the top spot for this years' New Zealand Race Unity Speech Competition.

Te Ariki Te Puni of Palmerston North Boys High School "never even thought" his defiant speech against racial adversity would raise the attention it has.

"I didn't think it would be seen by anybody other than who was in the room at the time.

"I can't stress enough it is humbling to see that people actually want to listen," he says.

But he wants people to do more than just listen about what he calls racism that "cuts deep with our conscious".

"I really hope people have actually thought about their own lives and thought about ways of attacking the problem that is at hand."

His speech focuses on how together as a nation, New Zealand needs to stand against the "corrosive impact" of racial abuse and to "fully accept diversity."

"United we find strength. Alone we can be broken. Standing together we are invincible," he told the audience.

He says everyone goes through "casual racism" in their lives, including himself.

"The worst thing is that you're taught to kind of laugh it off, and by doing that it kind of makes it acceptable."

When he's not public speaking, in his spare time the teen enjoys hunting, fishing and diving. He lives on an "oversized lifestyle block" with his three sisters, and loves playing rugby.

"I'd love to receive a scholarship or try and further my rugby career but that depends on how I go in the season.

"I was planning, but it's not set in concrete, to study at Auckland University with a double major in Engineering and Law."

However, one of his many passions will remain -- to inspire people to "believe a bit more and understand their potential."

"We are all connected to this earth by the same force of gravity but most importantly we all share this country, Aotearoa."