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March 2021

Ka nui te mihi kia koutou katoa - UNA
Dear Members and Supporters of the United Nations Association

Welcome to our March newsletter!

It has been a busy month for us here at UNA NZ. We have largely been focused on facilitating our engagement with the Commission on the Status of women, the world's premier policy-making body on women's rights. This year we were able to use our ECOSOC status to have 7 young women representatives, we also co-hosted a parallel event and participated in the Ministry for Women's side event.

We have also been working hard on producing our annual publication, UNA NZ news. This has involved bringing on a team of assistant editors. Thank you, Catherine, Tom, and Sophie for your work. This process also provided a great opportunity to reflect on our key events, projects, and reports throughout 2020 despite all the challenges it provided. We are excited to be able to share this with you next month.

Most excitingly we have been preparing to launch our flagship programme, our secondary school speech award. The award is now live - you can see the relevant information in this newsletter. The speech award has been running for over 35 years, last year it was run online for the first time due to COVID19. Given the risk of regional lockdowns and the overwhelming quality and number of entries received last year the competition will again be run online. 

Over the coming few weeks our branches will be holding their AGMs, we will host our first National Council meeting for the year and we will launch our annual publication. We thank you for your support and engagement that has allowed us to undertake all these activities. We look forward to seeing you engage with our annual publication, upcoming events and other activities. 


 United Nations Association of New Zealand Speech Awards Open for 2021!


The United Nations Association of New Zealand (UNA NZ) is excited to launch our Secondary School Speech Award for 2021. 

The United Nations Association of New Zealand has held regional secondary school speech awards for over 35 years. This year the competition will again be held online in light of the ongoing COVID19 situation.


Students must speak for a minimum of 6 minutes and no longer than 8 minutes and must make a particular reference to the aims, work and aspirations of the United Nations. The topic that students are asked to address is:

“The role of the United Nations (and its broader system, including for example, the WHO) in addressing global challenges such as COVID-19 reinforces the need for governments, NGOs, the private sector and people everywhere to support and develop the United Nations. What should this support and development look like?”

We suggest that the UN Website and UNA NZ website be explored. Students are encouraged to do their own research, though, and add their own perspective. Certificates are awarded to all who participate. The deadline for entries is 30 June 2021.

We invite you to share this announcement widely and encourage a wide range of students to apply by submitting a recording of them delivering their speech via our online form:

For any queries please contact or


  UNA NZ attends Ministry For Women's CSW side event


The United Nations Association of New Zealand (UNA NZ) was represented by 5 young women, our Executive Officer and honorary life member at the Ministry for Women's Commission on the Status of Women side event in Wellington earlier this month. 

One of our representatives Ellen Lear said "It was an honour to be able to attend the Manatū Wāhine Ministry for Women, New Zealand side event in Pōneke, as a representative of United Nations Association of New Zealand. The focus was on the priority theme of the United Nations 65th Commission on the Status of Women: women's full and effective participation and decision-making in public life, as well as the elimination of violence, for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls. We had the incredible opportunity to connect with and learn from the Ministry for Women Chief Executive Renee Graham, Ministers Marama Davidson and Jan Tinetti, as well as leaders of Aotearoa’s key women’s organisations."

Pictured: 4 of our CSW representatives with Executive Officer Maisy Bentley and Honorary life member Joy Dunsheath
Left to Right: Brodie Joyce, Ellen Lear, Maisy Bentley, Ruby Sands, Kate Hellings and Joy Dunsheath


  Wellington Branch Event - Time to upgrade our Global Institutions- a fresh vision from Aotearoa New Zealand



UNA NZ Press Release - support of New Zealand Government statement on human rights 

This week New Zealand issued a joint statement calling for the respect of human rights and support of the United Nations systems in upholding human rights.

"Since 2018, when reports began to emerge about the detention camps in Xinjiang, Australia and New Zealand have consistently called on China in the United Nations to respect the human rights of the Uyghur people, and other religious and ethnic minorities.

"Today we underscore the importance of transparency and accountability, and reiterate our call on China to grant meaningful and unfettered access to Xinjiang for United Nations experts, and other independent observers."

You can read news coverage of the statement here.

The United Nations Association of New Zealand (UNA NZ) supports the use of the United Nations system to call for the respect of human rights. UNA NZ believes this structured rules-based system is the most effective mechanism for making such calls. 

UNA NZ also supports calls to allow meaningful access to United Nations experts to provide transparency and accountability in regard to upholding human rights. The success of the United Nations, its organs, and experts requires the cooperation of all nations. UNA NZ calls on all countries to actively commit to and cooperate with the United Nations and its aims to uphold human rights.



UNA NZ Press Release - Call for respect of international commitments regarding deportation of minor

The Australian Government has deported a 15-year-old boy to New Zealand, where it is believed he has no family support system. The UNA NZ condemns this action and calls for respect of human rights and international commitments. By adding our voices, UNA NZ has contributed to the sustained pressure on the New Zealand Government to uphold human rights and reinforce the need to oblige by international obligations.

Through our ongoing work, we will continue to promote engagement with and understanding of the United Nations and its aims. Such work supports the ability of civil society to hold the government accountable in instances such as this.

You can read our full press release here.


 UN & Australia Sustainable Partnership Forum

The incredible global impact of the Coronavirus pandemic has made people in Australia and around the world aware of the urgent need for action to ensure people’s basic needs are met; that the planet is made secure from the effects of climate change and that our future world is healthier, safer, fairer and more prosperous.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide the global blueprint to end poverty, protect our planet and ensure prosperity. Working together to implement them by 2030 will mean we address the underlying factors which exacerbated the worldwide crisis: poverty; food insecurity; fragmented health systems, educational inequality and climate change.

On 20 and 21 April 2021, we will bring together governments of all levels, businesses, universities, start-ups, students and community organisations to hear from, and interact with, leading speakers from within the UN and from companies, universities and organisations which partner with the UN.

Over two days, Forum delegates will have access to compelling and inspiring expert information. While virtual, people will be able to connect, network and lay the groundwork for the range of partnerships needed to achieve the SDGs. This gathering will encompass all 17 Goals but be guided by SDG 17: Partnerships for the Goals to ensure it is outcome oriented.

After a worldwide consultation, the UN has identified four key areas which require urgent and sustainable solutions. If you haven’t already done so, we urge you to watch Nations United: a beautiful and inspiring visual representation of these challenges.

Our Forum will use these as overarching themes for our range of Keynote and Panel Sessions and Interactive Workshops. They are:

  • Climate and Planet
  • Poverty and Inequality
  • Justice and Human Rights
  • Gender Equality

UNA NZ members can receive a discounted member rate - Find out more about the summit here.




You can still watch to United Nations Association of New Zealand Speech Award 2020 winner and runner up speeches online!

UNA NZ has been running our Secondary School Speech Award for 30 years. Previous finalist and winners include our current Prime Minister Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern and Chris Bishop MP. This year due to COVID19 the competition was run online.

We were pleased to announce last year that the runner up for the 2020 speech awards was Demira Singh from St Cuthbert’s College and the winner of the 2020 speech awards is Desmond McBride from Fraser High School.

Read a full press release with links to online recordings of the winner and runner up speeches here

Pictured above: Desmond McBride from Frase High School, Winner of the UNA NZ speech award 2020 delivering his winning speech.

 Goal of the month: Gender Equality


March features both International Women's Day and the Commission on the Status of women, two key events in the gender equality calendar, so it's fitting that the goal of the month is gender equality.

Key resources:

Read more about goal 6 here.

  Aotearoa Celebrates International Women's Day

8th March marked International Women's Day. This year international women's day was different from any before due to COVID19. Around the world, and here in New Zealand events occurred largely online. Below we reflect on some of the key events/activities, most of which can still be enjoyed online. 

United Nations Official Observation
One of our CSW65 representatives Ellen Lear woke up in the small hours of the morning to observe the official United Nations event online. Below are some of her reflections.

"There are few things I’ll get up at 4am for, but the UN Observance of International Women’s Day is one of them. Despite the virtual nature of the event, it felt inspiring to be able to listen in alongside people from all over the world. There's a lot still to unpack, but stand-out thoughts for me so far are these:

- There is a correlation between slow progress & underrepresentation.
- The challenges we face are intersectional & intergenerational, and the solutions must be also.
- Gender justice is intrinsically linked to climate justice.
- “We are done with token appointments - that is SO 20th Century,” Kavita Nandini Ramdas
- “We need to be practical as well as visionary,” Joanita Babirye
- When women are at the table with men, better decisions are made - Prime Minister of Iceland, Katrín Jakobsdóttir
- “Your power is your radical self,” Aya Chebbi

A special thank-you to Sophia Pierre-Antoine for doing a stellar job of facilitating, and for maintaining such a positive energy throughout. Thank-you also to Eddie Ndopu for facilitating such an inspiring and thought-provoking panel, and for being such a remarkable ally.

You can watch the event recording here:"

UN Women hosts online exhibition to mark International Women's Day

“I Lead by Example. I am Generation Equality.”
This exhibit features 13 extraordinary women leaders fighting for gender equality, whose words and stories inspire others to join “Generation Equality.” It presents women leading by example to change the places of power, end violence, stop climate change, and open opportunities for all women and girls. #UNexhibits @UN_Women

Zonta and UN Women's International Women's Day Breakfast at Parliament hosted online
The coveted annual women's day breakfast at Parliament moved online due to COVID-19. The event was live-streamed and recorded. You can watch the recording here


 Don't forget you can now read our annual publication online!

Our annual publication UNA NZ NEWS has launched! Only online for now, but printed copies will become available soon, production and distribution of these has been delayed due to COVID-19. 

A great thanks is owed to our former National Administrator Chris Vogliano and our design intern CJ who spend considerable time curating the publication. We are grateful to our intelligent and experienced special officers who made valuable and informative contributions to the publication regarding their respective fields.

You can read it online here via a pdf on our website or on Issuu here


UNA NZ Education Portal Resources

Curious to know what our education portal actually is? 

The UNA NZ Education Portal is an excellent web page for UN-related resources.  

The resources on this site are designed for primary school aged children. If you are an educator please use these resources as you wish. We also encourage educators, students and parents to contribute to the portal to help it grow. Find out how you can contribute here.

Check out our about page to watch an introductory video, read updates, learn how to contribute and most importantly, how you can take advantage of these resources to make learning exciting for your students. 

Click here to learn more.

Check out our newly updated website!
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