Mayor Harvey to take strong peace message to Ypres
02 October 2008
Mayor Harvey to take strong peace message to the old battlefield of Belgium
Waitakere City mayor and New Zealand Peace Foundation president Bob Harvey was today appointed to the Executive Committee of Mayors for Peace.
However, he puts his appointment down to the hard work of his city and country to build safe and peaceful places to live.
“This is simply a reflection of the reputation that Waitakere City and New Zealand have built up throughout the world over many decades,” he says.
In November, Mayor Harvey will be taking New Zealand’s message of peace to annual general meeting of Mayors for Peace in Ypres, Belgium - the site of many fierce battles during World War One.
Many countries will be represented there, including Croatia, Spain, Iraq, Japan, The United States of America, Italy, Germany, Belgium, France, the United Kingdom, the Philippines and Russia, with the aim of advancing the global peace initiatives, including the United Nations Non-Proliferation Treaty.
“I will bring Waitakere City’s practical experience in standing up for everyone in the community. There are huge billboards around our city saying simply: “It’s Not OK”. This campaign stands against family violence. It’s that simple leadership for peace in our homes, peace at a local level, that I’m privileged to be able to take onto the world stage.”
Mayor Harvey said that holding the meeting so close to a major battlefield is particularly appropriate: “There are still villages in Belgium and northern France who remember with real affection and honour the efforts and sacrifice New Zealanders made,” he says.
“In fact only two weeks ago, a plaque in memory of Victoria Cross holder Sergeant Henry James Nicholas was unveiled to mark his "exceptional bravery" in World War One in the Belgian village of Zonnebake.”
Mayor Harvey’s reputation as a civic leader has earned him a number of honours. In 1998 he awarded a UNESCO “Cities for Peace” prize, in recognition of leadership in promoting safe communities. He was only one of eight mayors in the world to receive the award.
Waitakere declared itself nuclear free in 1986 and the city has flown the Nuclear Free Peace flag for over 15 years. “It’s important that we continue to take positions against war on the world stage,” he says.
In March 2007, Waitakere declared itself a City for Peace.
“By becoming a City for Peace, Waitakere has built on its eco and safe city agendas and joins the increasing number of ‘peace cities’ around the world,” says Mayor Harvey.
"Some people might say our City for Peace declaration is merely words but they are definitely not hollow ones.
"All successful causes start with a vision and an invitation to other people to share it. This is about hope for the future and we can wear this with enormous pride."