STRONG WORDS: Nick Carey won the Lions Club Sil Gava speech competition with a speech about xenophobia.
STRONG WORDS: Nick Carey won the Lions Club Sil Gava speech competition with a speech about xenophobia. Susanna Freymark

On that quiet, autumn day fifty innocents lost their lives

BRIGHT-eyed student Nick Carey's speech blew away the judges at the Lions Club Sil Gava public speaking competition in Casino.

The 13-year-old St Mary's Catholic College student loves public speaking and winning the $100 first prize was a bonus, he said.

"I like having a voice and putting myself out there,” Nick said.

The judges of the competition were impressed with Nick's abilities and empathy.

The winning speech

Xenophobia Is The New Contagion

Teachers, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls,

"Learn to speak English ... Muslims are the problem here ... No, where are you really from?”

Scrolling through any Facebook feed, I see a mass of comments just like these.

Already at the age of 13, we are exposed to a bitter and vengeful mindset and it is gripping our nation like never before.

The Oxford Dictionary defines xenophobia as the dislike of or prejudice against people from other countries.

The resurgence of this in our culture has encouraged an attitude dormant ever since that of the stolen generations.

Throughout this country, this town, this school, we see xenophobia developing something more than just racist comments.

Xenophobia is the new contagion and we should band together and unite to stop it in its tracks.

I'm at the gym. Safe and unaware, blind to the vindictive world around me. My life is good.

As my eyes cross from my friend to the gym TV, I see a bold headline announced across the small, mute screen.

A somewhat dejected newscaster is solemnly reading out the report.

The scene crosses to a police-stricken street at a downtown Christchurch mosque. The message was one sound could not convey.

That was 12 days ago. It has now been confirmed that on that quiet, autumn day 50 people, 50 innocents, lost their lives.

That's 50 people that left their homes on the morning of the 15th of March and to their surprise would never come back.

But why?

Why, may you ask, did a man from an average family 100km down that road open fire on 50 people in the Al Noor Mosque? Was it simply because they were different?

Did Brenton Tarrant brutally rob these people of their lives just because they weren't the same as him? The answer to this is probably.

Many people confuse racism and xenophobia. Though similar, they differentiate on one founding point. Xenophobics not only discriminate against people from other cultures, but they are scared of them.

And what do scared people do? They get rid of their problem.

Solution to xenophobia?

There may not be one.

But my purpose here today was not to provide you with a way that we can eradicate this from our society. Nor was it to educate you on the horrors of March 15.

Today I came to prove to you that xenophobia is the new contagion.

And this time it was deadly.