This year, Soka Gakkai International New Zealand hosted the Auckland Peace City and Nuclear Free Annual Event at the SGINZ centre in Ellerslie on Saturday 8th June. Over 100 people including Auckland Mayor Len Brown, attended the event, with live music provided by the Victorious Marching Band and guitarist singer Vicky Yiannoutsos, and of course a delicious afternoon tea.
Jimi Wallace, the emcee and SGINZ General Director, introduced the nuclear free legislation as “one of the rare moments when humanity came before economics, where the environment came before short term gain. It was a moment of clear cut sanity, when the innate and natural desire of humanity for peace, health and a future for generations to come took precedence and was actually acted on in reality.”
He declared that honouring and extending this legacy is an important, vital moral responsibility and quoted SGI President Daisaku Ikeda from the opening of the serialised novel The New Human Revolution, “Nothing is more precious than peace. Nothing brings more happiness. Peace is the most basic starting point for the advancement of humankind.”
A highlight of the day was the launch for the documentary film called: ‘Auckland Peace City Celebration of Nuclear Free New Zealand. This was produced and directed by veteran peace activist and SGINZ member, Laurie Ross and edited by film maker Nikki Wood.
This 40 minute DVD records the public celebration of Auckland Council’s Peace City Declaration in Aotea Square on 8/9th June 2012. This event honoured the 25th anniversary of the New Zealand Nuclear Free Zone legislation of 1987. It also contains iconic footage of the 1980’s Peace Squadron protests on the harbour and the street marches that led to this milestone in our country’s history. But its primary focus is on speeches by a selection of Auckland Peace Leaders, like Maire Leadbeater, Richard Northey and John Hinchcliff.
Interwoven with music from leading performing artists such as Caitlin Smith, BillyTK and Shona Laing, is the work of a variety of organisations dedicated to the abolition of nuclear weapons and nurturing a culture of peace in the community, such as the United Nations Association of New Zealand (UNANZ), Women’s International league for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), and Greenpeace. There are many other features in this film but most notable is Alyn Ware, the Global Coordinator of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament, who makes a series of memorable statements.
An introduction to the Auckland Peace City Toolkit by Yvonne Duncan, inspired many questions which were asked during the Q and A session, and this prompted an excellent discussion about it’s implementation. The toolkit can be used as a guideline for peace city initiatives across Auckland, and can serve as a framework for enabling local communities to develop strong connections with peace groups and activities in their own area and in other parts of the city so they may work in collaboration to develop a culture of peace.
In this way, the Toolkit has the potential to grow into a resource which can be used by local boards as well as local communities, organizations and community members well into the future.
In his address, the mayor spoke of the importance he placed on faith traditions such as ours that work together with others for the benefit of the wider community. To the delight of all, he concluded his speech by singing a song his father had taught him called ‘The Olive Tree,’ in appreciation.
The event provided SGINZ members with a unique opportunity to work alongside other organizations and underpinned the importance of working cooperatively to promote our shared values of peace and human happiness.