Friday June 8 was the 25th anniversary of New Zealand’s anti-nuclear policy introduced in 1987 by David Lange’s Government. Local peace devotees met at the World Peace Bell in the Botanic Gardens. I failed to make it because, on the way, I crashed by bicycle on a devious slice of frozen snow, giving my head an unpleasant thump. For several moments I could not recall the reason for my mission.
I always thought David Lange’s policy was a brave one, upsetting Administrations in the US and Australia. We were deprived off several so-called privileges, even ousted from the ANZUS pact despite the “NZ” in it meaning New Zealand. Daft really. Yet during visits to Australia many locals expressed sincere regret their country could not follow New Zealand’s lead. At home some Americans I met apologised for the actions of their government against New Zealand.
The World Peace Bell (cast using coins from United Nations member countries) was an appropriate venue to commemorate the anniversary. I was involved in having the huge bell gifted to Christchurch from Japan – my sole voluntary community project. Part of the deal was a 2004 bicycle ride the length of Japan (Soya Misaki to Sata Masaki) with my partner, Haruko, having signed an agreement for the gifting with the World Peace Bell Association president, Tomijiro Yoshida, in Tokyo. The ride, 4200 km with detours added, included a rest day in Nagasaki, one of two Japan cities to suffer atomic bomb attacks in August 1945. We visited the A-bomb museum, a sombre experience. I felt proud to be a Kiwi on seeing New Zealand heading a list of countries that have made a significant contribution to world peace. An excellent thumbs up for our anit-nuclear policy which was mentioned. I also found a somewhat poignant quote at the museum.
A person who possesses weapons is not qualified to pray for peace