News

iChoose Wows at Dress Rehearsal

posted on 25 February 2013

The dress rehearsal was held ahead of the roll-out of the programme in ten Auckland high schools the following week.   Among the audience were Labour MP for Mangere, Su’a William Sio and his teenage daughter, Dale Ferris (National Network for Stopping Violence), Johnnie Black and Christina Barruel from the Peace Foundation, teachers and students from Albany Senior High School, Kelston Boys High School, Waiuku College and Epsom Girls’ Grammar, parents and friends of the cast and members of SGINZ.
Using music and drama to depict the many forms of bullying and passive violence in a classroom setting, the powerful 20 minute performance highlighted issues facing young Kiwis like physical abuse, binge eating, racism, cyber-bullying and suicide though the lives of the classroom characters.   The audience were clearly enthralled.  Many had tears in their eyes and the performance ended to a standing ovation.
During the discussion forum that took place after the performance, it became clear that the characters and stories were based on the cast members’ own personal experiences of not fitting in, being different and coping with internal and external put-downs.   Audience members asked questions about what respect means to youth, the meaning of passive violence and the difference between arrogance and respect.   
The end of the discussion, a representative from the Police as well as the Peace Foundation and the other anti-violence groups expressed interest in collaborating with SGINZ to promote the anti- bullying programme.  Two additional schools also signed up to having iChoose performed at their schools. 
What the audience said
“A very powerful way to ‘touch’ young people – it was an authentic approach through music, dance, song, drama – mediums which young people love!  What I learnt was that each character was telling their own story and the performance of each member of the case was very convincing as a result.  It was an awesome piece of work.” – Christina Barruel (Cool Schools National manager and Trainer, Peace Foundation)
“Short, sharp, to the point – it was easy to digest from a young person’s perspective.  There was excellent delivery and opportunity for discussion after.” Dale Ferris, Project Manager for the Respect All People (RAP) Project
“I would like to commend the cast and crew for the show.  The key thing for me was the dialogue in the end when I learnt that even though the cast were depicting a character, it was based on their own stories.  It was powerful, brilliant and real.  These are real stories that people can relate to, even in my family.  These made it more powerful  - the personal stories and how they overcame their struggle.   I would like to talk to the organisers to take it further than the ten schools in Auckland. “ Su’a William Sio (Labour MP for Mangere)
“The performance was very emotive. It will connect powerfully with our young people. A very authentic stimulus to further conversation.”  G. Ditchburn, Dean Waiuku College
“I was suitably impressed with the extent of the work that has been done by the company. The performance at times exceeded expectations.  My only perceived criticism was that the music seemed to drown out the initial dialogue, an issue which appeared to be rectified quickly.”   Philip Woodhall-Martin.
Kelston Boys High School
“High energy, great choreography and singing, moving stories.” Sally Mabelle
“Totally Impressed. The honesty of the cast is what will strike the most impact with teens.” Wendy Taylor
“I really enjoyed it. As a teacher myself, I realised I need to get to know my students’ stories” Ken Patten
“It was an amazing, excellent work . I learned not to bully others and be nice to myself and others” 5 year old girl.

Under the direction of Lisa Brickell, the multi-ethnic cast members of iChoose wowed the 210 strong audience at the dress rehearsal of the show held at the Soka Gakkai International of NZ Culture Centre in Ellerslie, Auckland on Saturday 23 February. 

The dress rehearsal was held ahead of the roll-out of the programme in ten Auckland high schools the following week.   Among the audience were Labour MP for Mangere, Su’a William Sio and his teenage daughter, Dale Ferris (National Network for Stopping Violence), Johnnie Black and Christina Barruel from the Peace Foundation, teachers and students from Albany Senior High School, Kelston Boys High School, Waiuku College and Epsom Girls’ Grammar, parents and friends of the cast and members of SGINZ.

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‘iChoose’, Innovative Anti Bullying Programme Launches in Auckland Schools

posted on 19 February 2013

“iChoose”, an innovative anti-bullying programme will be launched in Auckland schools on 25 February 2013.  The programme was launched in the United States in 2010 and has since toured high schools in Hawaii, New York, Los Angeles and Oslo, Norway.

iChoose is aimed alping youth bullying for what it is: a choice.

iChoose challenges people to stop, think and remember that their choices matter. The programme comprises of a 20 minute musical production by young New Zealand performers, followed by a discussion with students facilitated by the cast members. The show will be followed up with the internationally successful Victory Over Violence (“VOV”) exhibition. 

‘iCHOOSE’, INNOVATIVE ANTI BULLYING PROGRAMME LAUNCHES IN AUCKLAND SCHOOLS
“iChoose”, an innovative anti-bullying programme will be launched in Auckland schools on 25 February 2013.  The programme was launched in the United States in 2010 and has since toured high schools in Hawaii, New York, Los Angeles and Oslo, Norway.
iChoose is aimed at helping youth bullying for what it is: a choice.
iChoose challenges people to stop, think and remember that their choices matter.   The programme comprises of a 20 minute musical production by young New Zealand performers, followed by a discussion with students facilitated by the cast members.  The show will be followed up with the internationally successful Victory Over Violence (“VOV”) exhibition. 
iChoose was created by the international Committee of Artists for Peace (ICAP), an organisation founded by international artists like renowned Jazz musicians Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter, guitarist Carlos Santana and actor Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing in “Dallas”) who are committed to using the power of creativity to foster a culture of peace and non-violence.  The founding principles of ICAP are inspired by Buddhist and Gandhian ideals of non-violence.   ICAP is bringing the programme to New Zealand. 
Featuring actress Bronwyn Turei (Cody in the hit TV series “Go Girls”), Auckland comedian Greg Goodyer and hip hop artist Jaime Latima, cast members for the NZ production have been picked locally. iChoose director Lisa Brickell says that the iChoose musical has been adapted to reflect the unique Pacific flavour of Auckland. 
                                                                      
Bronwyn Turei        Greg Goodyer
“The unique thing about the cast is that each of them has a strong personal connection to bullying, either as a bully or someone who has experienced bullying.  During the audition, we asked the performers to share their thoughts on bullying and we were blown away by their personal experiences,“ Lisa says
Lisa is passionate about promoting non-violence among young people.  She is part of the Buddhist group, Soka Gakkai International of New Zealand (SGINZ) which is assisting ICAP with the NZ tour. Lisa and her husband, Dion Hitchins were active in SGINZ’s award winning programme Victory Over Violence Aotearoa, an anti-violence programme run by young volunteers in Auckland, Reporoa, Wellington and Dunedin.  
“iChoose and VOV is about helping to break the cycle of violence among teenagers.  A big part of these programmes is recognising passive violence, which according to Gandhi, is fuel for physical violence.  In order to stop physical violence we need to identify and cut off the fuel supply,” she says.
“Getting involved in these programmes helped me to confront the history of depression in my family and helped Dion face the murder of a close family member by three teenagers.” 
iChoose will be performed in ten Auckland high schools from 25 February 2013.  There are plans to tour Wellington schools in 2014.
What: iChoose dress rehearsal. Open to the public.
When: Saturday 23 February 2013, 1.30pm – 3pm
Where: 40 Eaglehurst Road, Ellerslie, Auckland.  
Bronwyn Turei

Bronwyn Turei

Entry is free.More information on the International Committee of Artists of Peace (ICAP) can be found on www.icapeace.org.

iChoose was created by the international Committee of Artists for Peace (ICAP), an organisation founded by international artists like renowned Jazz musicians Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter, guitarist Carlos Santana and actor Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing in “Dallas”) who are committed to using the power of creativity to foster a culture of peace and non-violence. The founding principles of ICAP are inspired by Buddhist and Gandhian ideals of non-violence. ICAP is bringing the programme to New Zealand. 

 

Greg Goodyear

Greg Goodyear

Featuring actress Bronwyn Turei (Cody in the hit TV series “Go Girls”), Auckland comedian Greg Goodyer and hip hop artist Jaime Latima, cast members for the NZ production have been picked locally. iChoose director Lisa Brickell says that the iChoose musical has been adapted to reflect the unique Pacific flavour of Auckland.

“The unique thing about the cast is that each of them has a strong personal connection to bullying, either as a bully or someone who has experienced bullying.  During the audition, we asked the performers to share their thoughts on bullying and we were blown away by their personal experiences,“ Lisa says.

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SGINZ Celebrates the Chinese New Year of the Snake

posted on 13 February 2013

SGINZ CELEBRATES THE CHINESE NEW YEAR OF THE SNAKE
On Sunday 10 February, Soka Gakkai International of New Zealand celebrated the Lunar Year of the Snake at the Auckland Culture Centre in Ellerslie with about 500 people.  The celebration opened in grand style with the traditional lion dance and the “God of Prosperity” conferring ‘red packets’ filled with quotes and chocolates to the audience.  
Special guests included Melissa Lee MP (also Private Secretary for Ethnic Affairs), Cr Richard Northey from Auckland City Council, President of the Auckland Interfaith Council Ruth Cleaver and Dale Ferris from the National Network for Stopping Violence.  Guests were treated to cultural performances ranging from Chinese traditional dancing to a children’s rendition of Gangnam Style.  
SGINZ also launched iChoose, an innovative anti-bullying project from the United States at the Chinese New Year Celebrations with Auckland YWD Aidee Walker introducing a DVD clip of interviews with cast and crew. 

On Sunday 10 February, Soka Gakkai International of New Zealand celebrated the Lunar Year of the Snake at the Auckland Culture Centre in Ellerslie with about 500 people.  The celebration opened in grand style with the traditional lion dance and the “God of Prosperity” conferring ‘red packets’ filled with quotes and chocolates to the audience.

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“Seeds of Hope: Visions of Sustainability, Steps Toward Change” exhibition opens in Tauranga

posted on 1 November 2012

The exhibition Seeds of Hope opened on October 18th in Tauranga with over 80 guests attending 2 ceremonies - thanks to the SGI members in Tauranga and support of SGI members in other cities, as well as many members of the Tauranga community.

The opening ceremony at the Creative Tauranga art gallery was followed by the ribbon cutting at the Goddards Centre where the panels are on display. Tracey Rudduck from Creative Tauranga was the MC, and guest speakers included Tauranga Mayor Stuart Crosby, United Nations Association of New Zealand (UNANZ) President Graham Hassall, 17 year-old New Zealand Youth delegate to Rio+20 Erin Murphy, and SGINZ General Director Jimi Wallace.

Seeds of Hope will be held at the Goddards Centre until November 10.
Below are some comments from the speakers 
Stuart Crosby, Mayor of Tauranga
“I want to acknowledge SGI locally and all the other organisations represented here today which have similar philosophies…I am delighted to see these philosophies being embraced by our youth. To me, that is what sustainability is all about. We (the older generation) are creating the opportunities for change, but it is the youth that are actually making the changes.”
United Nations Association of New Zealand (UNANZ) President Graham Hassall
“Seeds of Hope- Individuals making a difference. Each panel looks at ways in which very ordinary people- humble people from different parts of the world have decided to be active. That is what SGI is about and what the United Nations is about.” 
SGINZ General Director Jimi Wallace
Introduced SGI President Daisaku Ikeda’s 2012 environmental proposal to Rio+20 quoting, “there has been welcome progress in encouraging learning and reflection. But unless this gives rise to empowerment and, beyond that, to the exercise of leadership, it will not generate real transformation.”  And said “How vital it is that we each develop a sense of and exercise leadership for the environment, for sustainability, for the future based on example with faith in the potential of one person to make a difference.”  
Erin Murphy (one of 4 NZ Youth Ambassadors who went to Rio +20)
“Rio +20 inspired me to want to be a part of the global community and help to ensure that the sustainable future we want is achieved not just in New Zealand but around the world.
This conference made me realise that all you have to do is to start caring about our planet, about the animals and people, all the plants that live on it. It is rthat simple.

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