Wellington City Council and Soka Gakkai International of New Zealand Host United Nations International Day of Peace
On a perfect spring day on Friday 21 September, over 100 people gathered to celebrate the United Nations International Day of Peace at the Peace Flame in Botanical Gardens in Wellington.
The first Peace Day was celebrated 30 years ago in September 1982 following its establishment by a United Nations resolution in 1981 to coincide with the opening of the General Assembly.
On this occasion, Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown invited SGINZ to jointly host a celebration to commemorate the day. The Wellington Mayor recently joined the global network for Mayors for Peace.
Set among the spring blossoms with the gentle sound of a waterfall in the background, the celebration commenced with Interfaith Prayers offered by leaders of the different faith communities in Wellington.
The Mayor then shared a message from Mayor Kazumi Matsui from Hiroshima who expressed his determination never to let the Hiroshima atomic bombing fade from memory by sharing the experiences of hibakushas (atomic bomb survivors) with the world.
"A general conference of Mayors for Peace, whose membership has now grown to 5,400 cities, is scheduled to be held in Hiroshima next August. The following spring, Hiroshima will host a ministerial meeting of the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiativecomprising ten non-nuclear-weapon states, including Japan. Through such occasions and other international conferences as well as various peace events, we intend to thoroughly disseminate the hibakusha’s desire at home and abroad" he said.
Former UN Under-Secretary General and champion of the UN Decade for a Culture of Peace, Ambassador Anwarul K Chowdhury also sent a message, emphasising that "much of the dynamic progress towards the culture of peace derives inspiration and hope from visions and actions of women, who constitute half of the world population. Promotion of equality between women and men and equal participation of women in decision-making are essential prerequisites to attaining the culture of peace".
Referring to a quote from peace academic Prof Kevin Clements, SGINZ General Director Jimi Wallace stressed how vital it is for each person to expand their circle of compassion and develop a sense of, and exercise, leadership for peace based on example. He also emphasised the importance of faith in the potential of one person to make a difference.
SGINZ members Yumi Ikematsu and Philip O'Malley delighted the audience with their musical rendition of an old Japanese song. Women and youth members from various peace groups cheerfully worked together to decorate the site with peace cranes and candles.