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Posts Tagged ‘peace’

International Day of Peace - 21 September

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

Tevents_photohe International Day of Peace (Peace Day) provides an opportunity for individuals, families, classes and communities to create practical acts of peace on a shared date. It was established by the United Nations and the first Peace Day was celebrated in September 1982.

Get involved and organise your own peace day event. It can be as simple as lighting a candle or as complex as organising a peace concert for thousands of people. To find out what’s going on around the world on peace day, or for ideas on how to get involved go to:

Also the United Nations is looking for stories from young people around the world who are working for peace. Send your stories to Anna Fritzsche at and Eleonore Kopera at

Global Countdown: Take action!

Monday, August 24th, 2009


By William Zhang

2008 has been a year of financial meltdowns, chaotic weather, a global food crisis and of course elections, both here and abroad. But we want to do something about the issues we are facing, so check out our ideas for taking action!

10. Drugs

Take Action:

9. Human Rights

Take Action:

8. Global Food Crisis

Take Action:

7. Healthcare

Take Action:

  • Don’t wait until you’re sick - be proactive and make healthy choices every day. Eat well, exercise and get plenty of sleep.
  • Support The Global Fund, which works for the prevention and treatment of AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, by buying (RED) products

oilfree_photo6. The Oil Crisis

Take Action

  • Leave the car at home whenever possible - walk, bike, catch the bus or take the train.
  • When buying a car, pay attention to its fuel economy rating Not only will it save you money, it’ll also help conserve the world’s finite oil supplies.
  • Read Life after Oil (another Just Write article) about preparing for the peak oil crisis.

5. Global Security

Take Action

  • Stay informed on the latest issues in global security. There’s a lot of hype out there, so if you want to go straight to the source, is one of the most trusted on the net.
  • Find out more about what you can do from the Global Security Institute, an organisation promoting security through the elimination of nuclear weapons.

4. Education

Take Action

  • Volunteer as a peer support worker at your school and help a fellow student get more out of their education.
  • Don’t take your education for granted - millions in the developing world aren’t as lucky. Make the most out of your school’s resources like libraries and computer labs…and (the most valuable resource of all) teachers!
  • Find out more about the UN’s Education for All programme and how you can support their goal of meeting the learning needs of all children, youth and adults by 2015.

3. Climate Change

Take Action

  • Go to or for loads of ideas on reducing your carbon footprint - from unplugging appliances to setting up community composting projects.
  • Support New Zealand businesses which have proper climate change policies, like Meridian Energy (or if you don’t pay the bills, ask your parents).
  • Put the pressure on businesses and the government to give climate change a higher priority - write letters, use parents’ networks and join lobby or environmental activist groups.

peace_trees2. Violence and Conflict

Take Action

  • Live by the principles of non-violence, followed by Te Whiti and Tohu, Ghandi and Martin Luther King. (Download this resource Parihaka and the gift of non violent resistance for more information.)
  • Help out the victims of violence and crime in New Zealand by donating to or volunteering for the Victim Support service.
  • Check out the Peace Foundation’s new youth website,, to find out how you can be an advocate for peace in your community.

1. The Economy

Take Action

  • Take money out of the equation. Bartering was the original form of trade, dating back to the Ancient Egyptians. Independence from money means that bartering systems prosper in difficult economic conditions. Try it for yourself, set up a class bartering system, or register with and share your time and skills with your whole community.
  • If you, or your parents, are forced to cut down on donations to charity, consider replacing them with a contribution of your time with volunteer work. Try or for current opportunities in your community.
  • Anchor down. Don’t spend beyond your means - maxed out credit cards are not the best idea in an economic downturn. But most importantly, think positive! The news may be full of gloomy stories about job cuts and lost savings, but don’t let that get to your head. Remember that “after the storm, the sun shines its brightest”.

This article was originally published in Tearaway Magazine.

Global countdown: Global meltdown?!

Monday, August 24th, 2009

By William Zhang

The year of 2008 was one of financial meltdowns, chaotic weather, a global food crisis, and of course, elections both here and abroad. If you get depressed easily, you might want to stop here. If you want to keep up and get ahead with the issues that will affect us most through 2009 though, read on. This is my Top 10 countdown for the issues of 2008 and 2009.

Just to show you I am not a complete pessimist the Top 10 list is followed by the actions you can take on each issue.

10. Drugs

Drugs continue to be a global problem. Annually the US alone spends $35 billion on its ‘War on Drugs’. 2009 will mark a century of international cooperation on drug control. In 1909 leaders from around the world met in Shanghai to discuss the drug problem of the time - the Chinese opium epidemic. In Aotearoa New Zealand, 2008 has been the Year of the Drug Bust. The aptly named Operation Viper saw the New Zealand Police make almost a hundred arrests, following numerous drug busts throughout September. The following month, a $28 million shipment of pseudoephedrine (a component of P), was intercepted by Customs - and that’s only the third largest drug bust in New Zealand history!

9. Human Rights

human_rights_chinaFor human rights campaigners around the world many milestones were made in 2008, such as the signing of an international treaty which bans the use of cluster bombs after years of campaigning by peace and disarmament groups. We also witnessed the spectacle (and sport) of the Beijing Olympics, which was accompanied by protests over China’s human rights record, raising some much needed awareness and generating media coverage around the world. 10 December 2008 marks the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a chance to celebrate achievements and focus on the upcoming challenges for 2009 and beyond.

8. Global Food Crisis

Millions of people in some of the world’s poorest nations face starvation in 2009 and beyond, due to skyrocketing crop prices and food shortages. Last year, over 25 000 farmers committed suicide in India alone, disillusioned by the debts they had been driven into by grain shortages and soaring costs. 2008 was the International Year of the Potato, but while the world celebrates the virtues of this staple food, the issue of hunger in developing countries remains as significant as ever.

7. Healthcare

global-healthcare1Globally over a billion people are still living without access to basic healthcare, with huge numbers dying from preventable diseases, such as tuberculosis and malaria. Locally too, the healthcare system was stretched to its limit in 2008, with red - and even purple - alerts flying everywhere, indicating shortages of hospital bed space. And let’s not forget the many overworked doctors and nurses around the country. 2009 may see further challenges, with many governments struggling to maintain expenditure on healthcare given the global economic slowdown and falls in GDP.

6. The Oil Crisis

In July, the price of petrol was thrust above $2 a litre, reaching new all time highs. While the price may have come down significantly since then, once economic growth takes off again when the world emerges from the economic slump, petrol prices are likely to soar once more - look out for new highs by 2010. In the long-term future, the peak oil crisis is coming. We’ll start to experience oilcost-photoa decline in the availability of cheap and easily accessible oil sources, with some predictions picking petrol prices to surpass $10 a litre within a decade. (And to think we were complaining when it hit $1 a litre back in April 2000!)

5. Global Security

Both Iran and North Korea are carefully nurturing their nuclear programmes going into 2009. In the case of Iran, retaliatory action from other countries, such as the US or Israel, threatens to throw the Middle East into further turmoil. The picture looks a little brighter for North Korea though, with agreements made to dismantle their central nuclear complex in return for financial aid from the US. Meanwhile, terrorism continues to remain a risk to global security as we head into 2009, with the prospect of biological weaponry being used against civilian targets a very real threat according to US National Intelligence Agency.

4. Education

Millions of children worldwide don’t even have access to the most basic forms of education. Over a billion people will enter 2009 unable to even read a book or sign their name. In 2009 progress will be made towards addressing this issue, with US$ 4.5billion pledged to support Education For All, a UN programme with the goal of meeting the learning needs of all children, youth and adults by 2015. In Aotearoa New Zealand, over 20% of students leave secondary school without any formal qualifications. While the solution to this is debated, the merits of NCEA continue to draw harsh criticism for not being challenging enough; with over 10% of New Zealand schools opting to offer Cambridge or IB instead - the list is growing steadily going into 2009.

cyclonenargis3. Climate Change

The Aotearoa New Zealand winter was full of extremes, with the coolest May since 1992, followed by higher than average temperatures in June and July, and of course the ‘weather bombs’ of August. Globally, Australia was hit by record droughts in early 2008, and South-East Asia was hit by record storms later in the year. This trend may turn out to be a title page for what’s to come in future years, with many scientists claiming climate change is responsible for this extreme weather and that things are likely to get worse. But its not just weather we have to worry about. A recent report found that the impact on ecosystems of climate change is already very severe, with falls in krill population caused by rising sea temperatures even being attributed to cannibalism among polar bears in the Arctic - nasty!

2. Violence and Conflict

According to the 2008 Global Peace Index, a system used to rank countries by their levels of conflict, Iraq is the least peaceful country, with the most internal conflict. Most of this can be attributed to US-led occupation of the region, with much of the violence being targeted at coalition forces. Meanwhile, Iceland took out the top spot as the most peaceful country. Aotearoa New Zealand was ranked fourth most peaceful, down two places from last year. 2008 saw violent crime in New Zealand rise, despite the overall crime rate going down. What seemed to be an endless string of senseless murders throughout the year left the country shaken and demanding action. Yet, this violence may be a dramatic symptom of deeper social issues, such as poverty, education and unemployment. If so, such issues will have to be addressed in 2009 before the issue of violent crime can be tackled successfully.

1. The Economy

tillCrises in the financial markets have dominated the news, election campaigns, and conversation since September. Aotearoa New Zealand is in a gloomy recession going into 2009, and many economists believe that the world’s going to join us soon. The underlying issues to the economic crisis are yet to be untangled though, so 2009 is looking to be a year which will be financially difficult for people throughout the world, including many New Zealanders. Sure, could have lower interest rates, but troublesome things may also be ahead - job cuts for example. This issue is also likely to have spill-over effects into several other areas. For instance, the climate change issue will likely take a back seat in the face of economic uncertainty. Likewise, those in poverty will be hit especially hard, as the willingness of governments and individuals to contribute financial aid and support may diminish.

2009 is going to be a rollercoaster of a year
The year of 2008 may have looked pretty gloomy, but there is still hope for the future. The United States has a new President and New Zealand has a new government. Will 2009 see Obama’s vision of “change we can believe in”, or the new government’s promise for a “brighter future” realised? Let’s hope so.


William has lots of ideas for ways to take action Check them out here.

This article was originally published in Tearaway Magazine.


Friday, March 27th, 2009


Who are they?

ENACT is a new youth website dedicated to peace issues, in Aotearoa and in the world as a whole.

It is aimed at young people as a forum for voicing your opinions and finding out about all things peace-related. The website is an initiative of the Peace Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation actively involved in creating a more peaceful society.

How can I get involved?

Join the Enact facebook page to connect with like-minded youth

Check out the Events page to see whats going on in Aotearoa (exhibitions, workshops etc)

Contribute a video, article, poem or artwork to the Enact website

Take part in a competition posted on the site

Amnesty International

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008


What do they do?

Amnesty International is a global movement of over 2.2 million people in more than 150 countries who contribute their time, money and expertise to the promotion of human rights and international campaigning against some of the most serious violations, including imprisonment for beliefs or identity, torture and killings.

How can I get involved?

Join a group (or start one) – There are Amnesty International groups in schools, universities, and youth groups. These groups campaign on all aspects of Amnesty’s work. They usually meet weekly or fortnightly to write letters, sign petitions or take action on the Amnesty website on behalf of these individuals and communities at risk.  They also organize awareness raising events within their school and community in support of Amnesty’s work, and take part in the Freedom Challenge, an annual team campaigning challenge in August (see for more details). Young people involved with Amnesty are consistently are rewarded with prolific media coverage for their awareness-raising in schools and the community.

Volunteer – Instead of, or in addition to, being part of a group, you can volunteer around the country, often spending time in the classroom, aiding social studies departments in their education of human rights. You can even spend time volunteering in the Amnesty Auckland office.

Apply for an internship – Amnesty’s Internship Program was established with the aim of enabling students to undertake a period of work experience with Amnesty International. It is an awesome opportunity to get involved in everything Amnesty does, and get some valuable experience. The Auckland office has its own Youth internship position.

Attend an Event – Amnesty groups run events around the country all the time, like games nights and keynote speakers. See the Amnesty website for more details.

Read a Publication – Amnesty produce high quality, up-to-date publications on Human Rights issues around the world. Expand your mind and read one today!

Sign an appeal for Action – The Amnesty website has an up-to-date list of current appeals that you can contribute to.

What we can do for peace

Wednesday, October 11th, 2006

Compiled by Youth at the Disarmament and Security Centre, Otautahi, Christchurch, NZ

lotus flowerDespite all the negative issues there are also increasingly positive steps that people the world over that are beginning to take to make changes for Peace, to live in harmony with the Earth and amongst all peoples.

  • Believe in your power to create change.
  • We are all vital links in the interconnected web of life, what we do today can make a positive difference.
  • Understand that dominant worldviews don’t always enable other people’s voices and stories to be heard. History books may be biased according to whoever wrote them.
  • Challenge yourself and others to support peace and justice and to hold these concepts at the centre of all local, national and international decision—making processes.
  • Think about the sort of world you would like your children’s children’s children to live in and work towards that!
  • Brainstorm ideas for positive change. Just as all destructive acts are acts of war, all creative acts are acts of peace.
  • Take time out to enjoy yourself, your community and your environment.



  • Find out more information on peace issues. Knowledge is power!
  • Share what you learn with friends and family.
  • Respect differences, honour diversity, learn more about another culture in your community.
  • Storytelling. Our world is made up of stories- not just atoms! Learn other people’s stories and those of your family.
  • Use the media. Write an article for a community or school newspaper. Get TV or radio interviews.
  • Find out angles that may be missing from mainstream media by consulting alternative media sources.
  • Learn more about the South Pacific Nuclear-Free zone. Push for a world without nuclear weapons and nuclear power plants.
  • Start your own group.
  • Consume less. Support conservation campaigns. Recycle, reuse and repair.
  • Practice solving conflict peacefully in your own life.
  • Avoid buying products from multinational companies.
  • Get involved in your local community. Become a volunteer.
  • Hold a stall or information display at a festival or in a public place.
  • Screen-print information or posters and distribute around friends, the community and the city.
  • Print patches or T- shirts, or wear ones others have made.
  • Write letters to decision makers.
  • Design and paint posters, banners or placards.
  • Take part in a Non-violent Direct Action (it is important to know your rights and take precaution to ensure your safety and the safety of others, remember that you are promoting peace so act PEACEFULLY)
  • Create and/or participate in Street Theatre.

people peace sign

  • Check out current events online at: or
  • Find out about local groups who work for peace and justice. Support groups that campaign for Peace nationally and internationally.
  • Check out Greenpeace and Amnesty International
  • Check out This site contains all you need to know about setting up and managing your own social or environmental campaigns.
  • Go to the Disarmament and Security Centre . It has heaps of good resources for learning about the history of NZ’s peace movement, and its anti-nuclear movement.
  • Use your consumer power to make wise decisions when buying things (buy products made in your own country, products that have minimal or no packaging, think about who made it and how they were treated, think about the impacts to communities and the environment that may incur from making the product, using the product and discarding the product). Check out adbusters
  • Grow food, help out at a local community garden. Find out what foods in Genetically Modified and what are healthier options.
  • Understand economic globalisation and its impact on people and the environment.
  • Visit the Peace Foundation Aotearoa NZ. The Peace Foundation is a 30-year old NGO that works through on Education, Action and Research.

Change doesn’t lie in the hands of governments but in ours.

A festival “PACIFICALLY” for youth

Thursday, September 21st, 2006

Corinna Howland

corinna howlandTahiti. Sun, sand and… socio-political activism? This may not be the most likely combination, but for over 1000 youth from around the Pacific region, it seemed to do the trick. The inaugural Pacific Youth Festival held on the island of Pape’ete between the 17th and the 22nd of July, was a unique and thought-provoking experience for its participants. Over the five day period, we attended a number of conferences, workshops and seminars centred around the four festival pillars — namely fair globalisation, sustainable development, cultural diversity and conditions of peace. These ranged from the basic (what are human rights ?’) to the complex and challenging (”Recognition, Preservation and Protection of Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property “), and provided a rare forum for youth from different countries and cultures to discuss issues concerning the Pacific Region.

But there’s more to the Pacific Youth Festival than a bunch of people sitting around talking about/lamenting the state of the world. The primary objective of the festival was to produce the Pacific Youth Charter’ — a document outlining issues that need addressing within the region and providing guidelines for improvement. This was collated by a representative, or Junior Delegate’, from each of the countries that attended. Charmaine Clark, a researcher and youth worker in Gisborne, was selected to represent the views of the youth of New Zealand. This appeared to be a mammoth undertaking, incorporating an extra two hours plus of work once the sessions had finished for the day, not to mention trying to communicate with Junior Delegates who spoke only French or Spanish (although translators were on hand).
dancers at pacific youth festival
Outside of the conferences and workshops, much time was spent forging connections with other people at the festival. Many felt that this was perhaps the most important aspect of PYF, as this resulted in a truly moving sense of unity and brotherhood amongst the participants. Although communication was sometimes stilted due to the wide variety of languages spoken, the heart was definitely there. The schedule also involved a reception and dance party(!) at the Tahitian Parliament, a recreational day trip to nearby Mo’orea and various cultural exhibitions in the evenings. A particular highlight for me was the spectacular array of scarcely-clad male dancers, and the ukulele which played constantly throughout the festival. Interacting with the locals was another memorable experience — a chance to practice our limited French and Tahitian, and to understand what was important to people and how issues concerning the Pacific were affecting them on a personal level.
party at pacific youth festival
For me, the Pacific Youth Festival not only provided an appreciation of the Pacific, but an awareness of what I take for granted in New Zealand. In one workshop, the person hosting the conference asked what method of distributing information to youth in the Pacific would be most effective. I replied that I thought newspapers would be best, as youth magazines were well-received in New Zealand. Following this, a man from Papua New Guinea put up his hand and said that that would not work in his country, as only half of the population can read. Maybe this is my ignorance, but it was in part a realisation of how little we are taught about the region that New Zealand belongs to. We tend to look beyond the Pacific to America, Britain and the other world powers, when it would perhaps benefit us to be more introspective. So, don’t ignore your neighbours — take the time to find out about the Pacific, and join us at the 2009 Pacific Youth Festival in Fiji!


Going Global — A NZ Guide to International Youth Opportunities - Takes you through all the stages of hunting out, applying for and going to an international opportunity, as well as how to make the most of your experience when you get back home.

Secretariat of the Pacific (SPC) — a Non Government Organisation based in Fiji and New Caledonia which has heaps of info about Pacific issues, plus links to other sites.

Wikipedia — for general information on the countries and territories in the Pacific
pyf sign


  • Encourage your local school to teach students more about the Pacific and Moriori people.
  • Write articles to newspapers and magazines about Pacific Issues.
  • Make changes to led a more sustainable life (recycling is a good way to start) and encourage others to do the same.
  • Get involved with an organisation or group working on Pacific Issues (like Just Focus!)
    Encourage an end to stereotypes and racism (not all Pacific Islanders wear grass skirts and live off coconuts…)

This article was first published in Jet magazine in the Focus column.

Photos by Geoff Cooper.

PYF: A trip to Tahiti, but what else would it be?

Monday, August 14th, 2006

Nicole Mathewson

tahitian girl dancersI boarded the tiny plane in Westport on July 14, nervous and unprepared. I hadn’t even read half of the information we’d been sent. I was excited to finally get a chance to go overseas, but by this stage I had convinced myself it was going to be terrible. They wouldn’t feed me enough (I like food), the people would be super brainy and super snobbish (how could a little West Coast girl ever compete?), not to mention old (I’m only 18 and the people going were aged from 16-30), and I’d get lost (the amount of youth going to the festival was more than the population of my entire town)!

Then as I munched the delicious chocolate chip airplane cookie I suddenly changed my mind (I’m funny like that). The Pacific Youth Festival will be great, I told myself.

And you know what? It was.

nicole and lyndon's presentationI was immediately welcomed by the 16 other New Zealanders at our one-day workshop in Auckland on the 15th (they weren’t mean after all). And I soon realised I was the only one who was feeling nervous and ill-prepared. And I was one of the youngest people there, but it never became an issue. We all came from different backgrounds, and different parts of the country, but here we were all equal.

We boarded the plane to Tahiti the next day and I discovered something better than airplane cookies - airplane socks!

Up to 1000 youth from around the Pacific (plus three from a youth organisation in France - yes France at a PACIFIC festival, proving how much control they still have in the country) were present for the six day festival. Our goal was to create the first Pacific Charter (a task that proved even more difficult than first imagined).

Our first day was spent exploring Pape’ete, the capital of French Polynesia, and then we got straight into it on Monday morning with the opening ceremony. The most inspiring part of that for me wasn’t in any of the speeches, but was seeing New Caledonia’s refusal to march under the French flag. It was something that became the big topic of the festival, even though originally the organisers tried hard to avoid the topic altogether - decolonisation (which, put very briefly, is the process in which a colony gains independence from a colonial power).
new caledonian sign at PYF
We attended conferences, workshops, and seminars focusing on the different themes of the festival including good governance, peace, education, cultural diversity, health, active citizenship, globalisation, equality, and sustainable development. We also watched cultural performances, had dinner and a dance at the Parliament, spent a recreational day on the island of Mo’orea, and sang - a lot!

Unfortunately, New Zealand wasn’t able to perform a cultural presentation. A lack of time to practise (and the fact we hadn’t met before the trip, let alone performed together) , a lack of indigenous people in the delegation (decreasing the authenticity of the performance), and the debate over what we would perform (Maori or Moriori - and what particular songs or dances) were to blame. The lack of performance is something I hope is rectified in time for the next Pacific Youth Festival in Fiji in 2009.

A variety of culture was everywhere. On the stage, in the fashion, in conversation. And learning about it all was incredible: seeing Samoan men in skirts (and looking good in them), learning about the history of islands like Rapanui (Easter Island), Marshall and Norfolk from the people who lived there, hearing Tongan men praising the attractiveness of bigger-sized women over stick-thin figures (image conscious people take note!), and practising Tahitian songs.
pacific couple
Language barriers were daunting at first, but we soon found there were other ways to communicate than just talking. Though we did do a lot of talking - and I think that’s where people learned the most, in general conversation at the meal table (where the food wasn’t all that bad), or outside our accommodation with a guitar or ukelele or some kind of instrument in hand.

A clear highlight for many (myself included) was the “Decolonisation with Justice” workshop organised by two Kiwis on the last day. It was a chance to finally talk about the effects of colonisation in our respective countries, something that many people hadn’t been allowed to talk about before. Colonisation had affected practically every Pacific Island nation, including New Zealand (the European and Māori conflict anyone?). The importance of keeping native languages and cultures alive and in practise featured heavily in many workshops along with the problems islanders faced in achieving that because of colonisation. Even in our host country, French Polynesia, the Maohi (native Tahitians), grew up unable to speak their own language because of the disapproval from the occupying French. The same thing happened to the Māori in New Zealand when the English arrived, showing that New Zealand faced many of the same issues as other Pacific Island nations and our place at the festival was certainly justified.

NZ delegationAnother highlight was meeting three Moriori youth from New Zealand. I never learned anything about the Moriori people at school. All I knew was something about “the Moriori being eaten by the Māori”… It was interesting learning about how the Moriori were still very much alive and the efforts being made to resurrect their language and culture. Their fight to rectify the shame people felt in being identified as Moriori (even more than Māori, Moriori people in the past were looked down upon and forced to hide or forget their culture) was incredibly inspiring.

While being saturated in culture during the festival was amazing and inspiring, it also became a kind of lowlight as it made me start to ask myself “what is my culture?” As a New Zealand European/Pakeha I felt out of place at the festival without a culture of my own that I could share, and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one from Australasia who felt that way.

Even though I didn’t understand everything that was going on, I felt comfortable there. By the end of the festival I didn’t want to leave. I learned more in one week about culture, respect and love than I did in all my years at primary and secondary school. The Pacific Youth Festival wasn’t just a trip to Tahiti, it was also an experience I’ll never forget.



  • Encourage your local school to teach students more about the Pacific and Moriori people.
  • Write articles to newspapers and magazines about Pacific Issues.
  • Make changes to led a more sustainable life (recycling is a good way to start) and encourage others to do the same.
  • Get involved with an organisation or group working on Pacific Issues (like Just Focus!)
  • Encourage an end to stereotypes and racism (not all Pacific Islanders wear grass skirts and live off coconuts…)

Photos by the Aotearoa NZ delegation, including: Annie Boanas, Elise Broadbent and Lyndon Burford.

sunset over mo'orea

Pacific Youth Hold Fast: We can’t ignore colonisation

Friday, August 11th, 2006

Omar Hamed

kanaky t-shirtNgā iwi e, Ngā iwi e
O people, O people
Kia Kotahi ra, Te Moana-nui-a-kiwa
Join together as one the Pacific Ocean.
Ngā iwi e, Ngā iwi e
O people, o people
Kia Kotahi ra, Te Moana-nui-a-kiwa
Join together as one, the Pacific Ocean

Kia mau ra, kia mau ra
Hold fast, hold fast
Ki te mana motuhake me te aroha.
To self-determination and to love.
Kia mau ra, kia mau ra
Hold fast, hold fast
Ki te mana motuhake me te aroha.
To self-determination and to love.

Ngā iwi e. The song of the Pacific. Originally a Kanaky song from New Caledonia, it was translated into Maori in the 1970s and entered New Zealand by way of Greenpeace, who sung it on board the Rainbow Warrior while protesting French nuclear testing at Muroroa in French Polynesia. It is as Pacific as the wide blue ocean in which we all live.

new caledonian sign at PYFOn the last night of the inaugural Pacific Youth Festival held in Tahiti between 17 and 22 July, it was revived as ninety New Caledonians cheered the end of the festival and sung for a new day in the fight for self-determination in the Pacific. They sang for freedom, their banner bearing the words “Delegation of New Caledonia” (a reminder to the festival of their refusal to march under the French flag). The song, echoing in the outdoor stadium as the sun went down over the harbour of Pape’ete, and the warm Pacific wind stirred the Kanaky flags they carried in their hands and wore around their necks.

I was lucky enough to be there in the stadium with them. Part of the 17-person delegation from Aotearoa who had travelled across the ocean to be part of the festival, I had joined with the more than 1000 youth from across the Pacific to discuss the important issues of the region. Sustainable Development. Globalisation. Active citizenship. Peace. Health. Education. Equality. Cultural diversity. Good governance. An array of problems and challenges was presented to us in six days of workshops and conferences designed to educate, empower and engage Pacific youth.

1400 Pacific youth gathered together to share, experience and learn. There were anti-corruption activists from Papua New Guinea, democracy advocates from the Solomon Islands, human rights workers from New Caledonia, sustainable farmers from Tonga, HIV/AIDS educators from the Kiribati Islands, indigenous intellectual property lawyers from Australia, women’s group organisers from Fiji, sports coaches from Vanuatu, community artists from the Norfolk islands and the list goes on. Too many to meet in a week, let alone to list here.

By the time I left Tahiti, the festival had become a backdrop to something much more serious. Behind the dancers on the cultural stage and the palm trees and the workshops and conferences was being played out an event that may well shape the future of French Polynesia’s future. Looking back on it now it seems bizarre, how Charmaine Clark, (Ngati Kahungunu), a researcher from the Tairawhiti Polytechnic in Gisborne and I got caught up in the middle of the struggle for self-determination in Tahiti.
new caledonia sign with flags
It began on Monday morning at the opening ceremony when Oscar Temaru, leader of Tahiti’s biggest independence political party and French Polynesia’s coalition government, asked the festival “to consider the issue of independence and more specifically ‘the freedom of the Maohi [Tahitian] people’”. He also said to the Festival in English, “Do you know that in our local Assembly it is prohibited to speak our language, the language of our land? Here [at the festival] we will speak our mother tongue. This is only one example of the colonial system that still exists in our land. We want to get rid of colonialism, racism and all these wrongs that exist everywhere in the world.” At that point, the French High Commissioner Office’s secretary-general walked out of the festival. The first shot of a new battle in an old war had been fired.

To explain; French Polynesia is an “overseas country” of France. It exists as a sort of autonomous colony, caught in the limbo of a people who want decolonisation and France which is desperate to hold onto its old colonial outposts in the Pacific. France still controls the immigration, foreign affairs and funds much of the social services in French Polynesia, and many in French Polynesia fear that the economy would collapse without French support. However, there is a tension between those who feel that it’s time for the nation to become independent and those who want the islands to remain connected with France. Oscar Temaru is the fiery independence leader who, when asked by a reporter “Most people call this place French Polynesia. What do you call it?” replied, “This is French-occupied Polynesia. That is the truth. This country has been occupied.” He has been involved in the struggle for self-determination for a long time and is an old friend of Jean-Marie Tjibaou, a Kanaky independence fighter assasinated in 1988 by the French and whose son, Pascal, was also attending the festival.
new caledonians on bus
Then, on Monday afternoon, I went with Charmaine, the Aotearoa Junior Delegate’, to watch her and the other Pacific Junior Delegates’ begin drafting the Pacific Youth Charter. It was a shambles. The French Polynesian Junior Delegate’ had appointed himself the chair of the drafting committee and next to him was the delegate from France. Yes, you read correctly: France was part of the festival. Three or four young people from a Paris youth NGO had come to the festival to represent the multimillion-dollar stake that France had in the festival, but it seemed to me, in the Tahitian cultural centre, watching the French delegate dominate proceedings that something was truly wrong for them to be able to put themselves on the drafting committee for the PACIFIC Youth charter.

On Wednesday the plot thickened, when Oscar Temaru invited the delegates for cocktails at parliament. The French and French Polynesian delegates (by the way the French Polynesian delegate seemed to have colonial outposts in his head) strongly argued that the delegates not go to the cocktails because it would cut into the drafting time for the charter. After a vote, which was eleven votes to ten in favour of not going (the deciding vote being the French), Charmaine and five other delegates walked out of the drafting committee, stating that it was rude to ignore an invitation by the President when they had not ignored a invitation the previous night by the French High Commissioner. At the party Charmaine invited Temaru to a forum that she and I had hastily organised the day before and scheduled for Saturday morning. It was to be a forum on “Decolonisation with Justice”, the very topic that Temaru had wanted discussed at the Forum. Although Temaru was to be outside the country, he promised to send his representative.

On Thursday it was voted that the French delegate could not have voting powers in the committee, causing him to walk out stating that it was “disrespectful” for Pacific youth to refuse the old colonial nations a say in their, (our) future. The youth of the Pacific had struck a blow against the empire it seemed. omar and char's decolonisation discussionOn Saturday morning Charmaine and I prepared the hall for the around one hundred youth and interested observers, including two members of the French Polynesian Assembly, who came to discuss colonisation and decolonisation. It turned into a very successful forum and we were able to put colonisation back on the agenda of the festival. Samoans came to talk about their dark past at the hands of colonial New Zealand; Kanaky, Maohi, Cook Islanders, Palauans came to discuss their islands’ experiences; Australians came to vent their frustration that there was only one aboriginal in their delegation, Papua New Guineans remembered their brothers and sisters in West Papua, who the government had warned them not to talk about at the Youth Festival. The pain of the Pacific peoples flowed through the room, the hurt, frustration and anger at last beginning to be discussed in an open way instead of being swept under the rug.

That night Charmaine and I met with the deputy of Temaru’s political party, Jean-Michel Carlson, and his wife to talk about the forum and the way the festival was unfolding. Jean-Michel informed us that the festival was part of a pro-French agenda initiated when Temaru was temporarily out of office after the more pro-French opposition party contested elections. No wonder France was allowed to take part in drafting the charter and why indigenous issues and colonisation were avoided. The whole festival had been initiated as a way of legitimising the French presence in the Pacific.
some of NZ delegation
Regardless of this, the Pacific Youth Festival was an important step forward for addressing issues in the Pacific region and facilitating dialogue between Polynesian, Micronesian, Melanesian and colonial settler cultures. However, I would definitely be critical of aspects of the festival such as the large Pacific Plan delegation, which held workshops on its development program (a plan that most Pacific NGOs say, “ignores the real needs of the region.”see link) Workshops on indigenous cultural protection, disabled peoples rights, gender equality, over fishing and poverty highlighted the inspiring work being undertaken by Pacific youth. Being with Maohi and learning about life in French Polynesia was a real experience. For instance, learning about the new golf course that was being created against local people’s wishes on the island of Mo’orea seemed to be an analogy of the whole Pacific situation with tourism: white people monopolising land and resources so they could indulge in recreation, while being served by a new underclass of workers forced to work in the tourism industry because all other industry is underdeveloped.
omar and friends
By the time I got on the plane home to New Zealand I was feeling much more like a citizen of the Pacific Ocean than ever before. The festival had made me realise how dependant Pacific peoples are on activists and campaigners in the “big brother” nations of Aotearoa and Australia to protest and lobby for increased foreign aid, fair trade rules, action on climate change and protection from the nuclear arms and colonial armies of the world’s superpowers. Whether it’s colonisation in West Papua, nuclear testing in Muroroa, unfair trade rules at the World Trade Organisation or greenhouse gases from the industrial nations, Pacific issues are Aotearoa’s issues and that to ignore our brothers and sisters in the Pacific is to deny the true fact of human existence: the fact that ultimately we’re all in this one together.


Get clued up on West Papua!
Check out these excellent websites on the Pacifics hidden conflict:
AUT journalists are investigating the conflict.
Peace Movement Aotearoa’s Resource Page
Indonesian Human Rights Campaign
Free West Papua!
Information on Papua

Get clued up on the Pacific!
Read the Oceania Indymedia Site
Check out the Pacific Concerns Resource Centre
Check out Dev-Zone’s Resource pages on the Pacific


  • Challenge Stereotypes about Pacific Islanders!
  • Don’t let people make racist comments about Pacific Islanders (or anyone!) challenge the way people perceive each other!

Photos by Elise Broadbent, Hana Solomon and Lyndon Burford.

sunset over moorea

Partying up at Parihaka

Wednesday, July 5th, 2006

Rose Lawson

When I first heard about volunteering for the Parihaka festival I had no real idea of what it might entail. It sounded like a good idea — a chance to hear a lot of really good bands in one place — so, with two of my friends from school, we packed our bags and headed up from Wellington to Taranaki.

All I knew about Parihaka was a little of the history, so I was really amazed at the stunning setting of the festival — tucked into a sheltered valley, with Mount Taranaki huge and beautiful in the background.

We were greeted with great friendliness and the cultural experience over the next three days was one none of us had ever experienced before — and one that we really enjoyed. Because there was a much smaller turnout than expected, and because so many people were keen to volunteer, we didn’t end up having to do anything. We kept pestering people and asking them if we could help — but, in the end, we were forced to relax and listen to the music!

The stalls and different organisations there covered an interesting range of viewpoints and issues, and I reckon people were pretty impressed with the Global Education Centre stall! It was really great to see so many different kinds of people helping out and enjoying the wonderful atmosphere. It felt like how New Zealand could be — and should be — if people learned to respect each other and to embrace the unique lessons the Māori culture can teach us all.

I would be lying if I didn’t admit that the music was the highlight though (!) — especially the 40 hour techno-tent. The roots and reggae were also amazing. It was disappointing that there weren’t more people there, but hopefully next time people will have heard how great it was and there will be better attendance. It’s the kind of festival I can see growing and improving every time.

All three of us thoroughly recommend this festival to everyone — whether you want to go with your friends or family, you won’t regret it.


Visit the Parihaka website and learn about Te Whiti O Rongomai and Tohu Kakahi and their methods of non-violent resistance which have inspired the world. Also find out the latest on the festival.

Read Global Bits - Parihaka: the Gift of Non-violence