70 years on from Hiroshima—Hope living in children’s art

The opening of Tumanako! Children’s art works for a peaceful world;

Tūmanako! (Hope!)—Children’s Artworks for a Peaceful Worldexhibition opened at the Wellington City Library mezzanine level on Sunday 2 August 2015.

The exhibition of artworks from children all over Wellington, plus four special guest artists from Auckland, was held to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan.

Soka Gakkai International of New Zealand (SGINZ) is hosting the exhibition with Wellington City Council to encourage a peaceful world free of nuclear weapons.

Wellington Mayor, Celia Wade-Brown, Executive Leader of Mayors for Peace, says the exhibition acknowledges that the voices and hopes of children should be heard.

‘Children often suffer in armed conflicts around the world and the exhibition provides the opportunity to express their belief in peace and justice through art.’

Wellington is a UNICEF Child-friendly City and is committed, along with the rest of New Zealand, to a nuclear-free world, says Mayor Wade-Brown.

The Mayor asked SGINZ to help organise an event. Inspired by SGI President Ikeda’s call in his recent annual peace proposals to make the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki a significant milestone in the journey to nuclear abolition, two SGINZ youth members formed the heart of the Mayor’s organising committee. Their proposal for an exhibition expressing children’s hopes for a peaceful world was readily accepted.

Organised at short notice, students through SGINZ members’ networks were contacted and a very positive response saw over 150 artworks submitted, representing children from 19 schools and art classes.

Panels from the SGI and ICAN organised international exhibition Everything You Treasure for a World Free from Nuclear Weapons are also on display, along with two panels introducing New Zealand’s passive resistance movement at Parihaka.

The short opening ceremony, packed to capacity with over 300 people, gave full display to the capability of children. Mayor Wade-Brown’s co-emcee was a Year 8 boy from Wadestown School.

The exhibit going up 3

Stringendo Wellington Children’s Orchestra gave an impressive performance of Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto, 3rd movement, and a moving speech from a Year 10 girl from Wellington Girls College introduced second Soka Gakkai president Josei Toda’s famous declaration against nuclear weapons.

Calling on all of us to improve ourselves as people and address the bottom layer of the pyramid of violence—bullying, put downs, talking behind people’s backs—her key message was that without this bottom layer of passive violence, nuclear weapons cannot exist at the top layer.

A 14-year-old school girl addresses the opening ceremony.

Most wonderful of all were the vibrant and colourful children’s artworks on display imbued with their beautiful heart for a peaceful and just world.

Tim Wright, an international director of the International Campaign to abolish nuclear weapons (ICAN) based in Melbourne, also spoke at the opening. Engaging with the children asking them which countries possess nuclear weapons and which ones don’t he emphasised the vast majority of countries do not possess nuclear weapons.

The artists attending the opening received a ‘Tūmanako! Children’s artwork for a peaceful world’ t-shirt with SGI President Daisaku Ikeda’s well known quote, ‘Peace is not simply the absence of war; it is a state in which people come together in mutual trust and live with joy, energy, and hope. This is the polar opposite of war—where people live plagued by hatred and the fear of death.’

SGI Youth organiser Michael Coles with artworks

Prizes for the artworks, which included a family pass to the Weta Cave Workshop, books, zoo and pool passes were sponsored by Wellington City Council, The Wellington Children’s Bookshop and individuals.

The exhibition, also supported by the United Nations Association of New Zealand, UNICEF New Zealand, Commonwealth Youth NZ and Initiatives for Change, runs until 16 August 2015.