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Public invited to World Peace Bell unveiling

Public invited to World Peace Bell unveiling

New Zealand's World Peace Bell will be officially unveiled by Christchurch Mayor Garry Moore in the foyer of Civic Offices, Tuam St next Thursday 10 February.

The bell, which has come from Tokyo, Japan, has been gifted to Christchurch by the World Peace Bell Association and is to be installed in the Christchurch Botanic Gardens as part of a new city peace walk.

Christchurch City Council International Relations co-ordinator Barbara August said, "peace bells are usually gifted to a country's capital city but this one has come to Christchurch in recognition of the fact that we are New Zealand's official peace city."

The New Zealand Peace Bell is a replica of the original World Peace Bell gifted to the United Nations in 1954 and is one of only 19 peace bells in 15 countries around the world. It is made of coins and medals from 106 countries, including New Zealand, who are committed to the promotion of world peace. The bell is one metre high, 609mm wide and weighs 365 kg, making it one of the largest display bells in New Zealand.

Fundraising is now underway to build a specially designed $70,000 pavilion to surround the bell. It is hoped that the bell will take up residence in the Botanic Gardens later this year. Ongoing maintenance of the bell will be the responsibility of the newly formed New Zealand Chapter of the Peace Bell Association.

"We have already had fantastic support for this project and are expecting the community will help us reach our fundraising goal," Mrs August said. "There was no cost involved in getting the bell from Japan to New Zealand. The peace boat Topaz carried the bell to Auckland and from there it was couriered to Christchurch by New Zealand Post, free of charge."

Anyone who would like to see the peace bell is invited to come to its official unveiling at 9am on Thursday 10 February or visit the Civic Offices foyer, where it will be sited until it takes up its permanent position in the Botanic Gardens.

To make a donation or assist with fundraising for the peace bell pavilion, contact Gordon Burrow of the Christchurch Chapter of the World Peace Bell Association on 332 7972.

Caption Ryo Ijichi, of the Peace Boat, Topaz travelled with New Zealand's Peace Bell from Japan to Auckland. The bell was then couriered to Christchurch.

Background The original World Peace Bell was presented to the United Nations on 8 June 1954 as a symbol of everlasting world peace by Chiyoji Nakagawa, former mayor of Uwajima, Shikoku, Japan. To manufacture the bell, Mr Nakagawa canvassed 65 member countries of the United Nations asking for donations of coins to cast it. His mission was to remind the world of the importance of peace and to say that no nation should experience an atomic bombing as Hiroshima and Nagasaki had done. The first World Peace Bell is located in the inner court of the United Nations headquarters in New York, supported on soil from Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In 1982, a World Peace Bell Association was formed in Japan with co-operation from ambassadors representing 128 nations. The Association charged itself with promoting a world free from the evils of nuclear war and presenting replica World Peace Bells to nations that had made significant contributions to world peace.

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