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Peace Pole installation aims to bring people together

peace pole

For the next three months, Civic Square will be home to a unique collection of Peace Poles/Pou as part of the Hastings District Council's vibrancy project.

Brought to Hastings by World Beyond War Aotearoa New Zealand in conjunction with Stortford lodge Rotary, an opening ceremony was held yesterday (Sunday, November 21), attended by members of the community representing the diverse cultures of Hastings along with other invited guests including Tukituki MP Anna Lorck and HBRC chairman Rick Barker.

Hastings mayor Sandra Hazlehurst led the ceremony and said it was a wonderful occasion to celebrate peace and the district’s multicultural community.

There are 43 poles in total, each featuring the words “May Peace Prevail on Earth” written in four languages – including English and Te Reo Māori, representing over 80 languages in total.

“We are so proud to have this installation in Hastings – Peace Poles/Pou can be found all over the world but this is a first for our district.

“At this time in our history, as it has been in the past, promoting peace for the wellbeing of our community is hugely important, and these poles are a wonderful way to bring us together and understand each other more.”

On the day, attendees enjoyed musical performances from the Hawke’s Bay Soul Choir and addresses from special guests including Hawke’s Bay Interfaith representative Reverend Dorothy Brooker, Stortford Lodge rotarian Brian Burrough, Hawke’s Bay Multicultural Association president Sukhdeep Singh and Ngāti Kahungunu representative and MTG curator Te Hira Henderson.

Hastings District Council Pou Ahurea/Principal Maori Advisor Charles Ropitini guided the ceremony and blessed the poles/pou.

World Beyond War Aotearoa New Zealand national co-ordinator Liz Remmerswaal was the lead organiser of the project and said the poles symbolise a common wish for a world at peace, standing as a silent vigil reminding us to think and act in the spirit of peace. 

“To me, peace is about justice, knowledge and building relationships.

“When we talk about Heretaunga it’s my hope that through symbolic actions like these we will gain a deeper understanding of what’s happened here in the past and how we will acknowledge that and move forward together showing each other care and respect.”

Hawke’s Bay Multicultural Association members also assisted with the event bringing together community leaders to attend and president Sukhdeep Singh said peace had a different meaning for different people.

“For me, it is all about having social harmony among our diverse Hawke’s Bay communities.

“We all have different values, beliefs, religions, and some come here from other countries. A way to explore peace is to make an effort to educate yourself with the different cultures, values or beliefs that are around you in your life, like your neighbour or colleague.

“Take some time to be open to another's experience and culture; share or talk about your cultural food with others when given an opportunity. These small things can help start those conversations, create better understanding and create respect for one another.”

The poles will remain in place at Civic Square until February next year, after which they will be relocated to other places around the region, including churches, schools, parks and community organisations.

A global movement, The Peace Pole programme originated in 1955 in Japan, and these poles can now be found in nearly 200 countries, with more than 200,000 placed around the world.

22 November 2021

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