What do you need to become a true Kiwi? A love of the outdoors, a passion for rugby, a way with No 8 wire?

Not according to Tauawhi Bonilla.

The Te Aute College student won the 2017 Race Unity Speech Awards with his discussion of what makes a true New Zealander.

Humility, loyalty and kindness are the only three ingredients that anyone needs to become a Kiwi, Bonilla said.

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Tauawhi Bonilla says being a Kiwi takes humility, loyalty and kindness. Photo / Monty Engs
Tauawhi Bonilla says being a Kiwi takes humility, loyalty and kindness. Photo / Monty Engs

"After that, like any good chef, we can add whatever we as individuals have, like for me personally, a cup of Maoritanga, a tablespoon of Latino, a pinch of well-crafted muscles and a dash of good looks to make my own version of the same pavlova cake."

New Zealanders speak of unity but racism is the "taniwha in the room", Bonilla said.

"If we are using racial slurs like 'curry muncher' where is the unity in that? Where is the unity that we so proudly hold in our Kiwi values? And if we corrupt these values, then what do we stand for?"

More than 150 high school students from around the country entered the competition, with the finals held on Saturday.

Several finalists spoke of the need to find a common identity as human beings before focusing on race or religion.

Runner-up George Sabonadiere of Logan Park High School in Dunedin said racism was a beast that couldn't be tamed.

"When the economy was collapsing, Hitler blamed the Jews. When industry wasn't productive enough, Stalin went after the Poles.

"But the people who buy these ideas are not inherently evil. They are poisoned by fear, plagued with ignorance and blinded by hatred. So we cannot simply shun them ... Don't feed the beast with the crumbs of intolerance. Simply understand."

The awards were started by the New Zealand Baha'i Community in 2001 following the death of race relations activist Hedi Moani.