Restoring respect for the forgotten
Tanaka Utete will be the voice for the marginalised and forgotten at an upcoming speech competition.
The Francis Douglas Memorial College student has been selected to represent Taranaki at the 2014 New Zealand Lions Clubs Young Speechmaker national finals held in Tauranga on August 16.
He is among 14 students who will be representing their regions in the finals.
Tanaka told the Taranaki Daily News he was in the middle of writing his speech and would spend an hour a day practising before the big day.
Drug addicts and homeless people were often overlooked by society, Tanaka said.
"But they're still human beings and should be respected."
Tanaka said the lack of respect shown towards the marginalised stripped them of the motivation to improve their lives.
He said his speech was about getting the audience to think outside of their "own world view".
"If my speech sparks something in the audience then I feel like I have accomplished something."
Tanaka is not new to the public-speaking scene and said he was "excited and keen for the challenge".
He has also just returned from performing at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre last month.
Asked of his plans of nailing first place, with the prize of an all-expense paid trip to the United States and Canada over the summer holidays, Tanaka said he had his "fair share of blessings".
"I still want to work hard for it but even if I don't come first in the speech competition, I know I have done my part in sending my message."
The Lions speech finals is open to students aged 17 to 20.
Taranaki Daily News