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UNESCO Peacebuilder Award Honours Parihaka Legacy

MEDIACOM-RELEASE-UNESCO

The United Nations Education, Science and Cultural Organisation, UNESCO, is to present a Peacebuilder Award to two kuia from Parihaka at the opening of the groundbreaking Parihaka exhibition at City Gallery Wellington on Saturday.

The Peacebuilder Awards are a feature of the New Zealand celebration of the United Nations International Year for a Culture of Peace. Pat Lynch, the Chairman of the New Zealand Steering Committee which is co-ordinating activities during the Year says the message of Parihaka is the message of a culture of peace

"In any society conflict is inevitable. We will always have differences and disputes. What is important is how that conflict is resolved. This is one of the key messages of the International Year for the Culture of Peace and Parihaka provides an uplifting and enduring model of a peaceful approach to dispute resolution," Mr Lynch says.

"Out of one of the darkest moments in New Zealand history has emerged an inspirational legacy of peaceful protest. Te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kakahi gave us an indigenous model of passive resistance as they led their people in peaceful opposition to the forced sale of their land."

Parekaituu Tito and Sadie Rukuwai, who are the guardians of the meeting houses of these great leaders at Parihaka Pa, have played an important role in the maintenance of the vision of Parihaka. The UNESCO Peacebuilder Award is being given to these two women who, alongside their people, work with patience, perseverance and dignity towards realisation of the vision articulated by Te Whiti and Tohu, more than one hundred years ago, for a just society in which Maori and Pakeha live peacefully together.

Mr Lynch says the International Year for the Culture of Peace is about acknowledging and celebrating peacemaking and peacebuilding and Parihaka has particular poignancy in that it expresses an indigenous approach to peace.

Parihaka spokesman Te Miringa Hohaia, who is a member of the Steering Committee for the International Year, says the two kuia have not only helped keep alive the legacy of Parihaka but have been instrumental in forging a direction of Parihaka now and in the future.

UNESCO's Peacebuilder Award is being presented every month until the end of the year to show the many diverse ways in which people contribute to building peace in our society. Recipients include: Andrew Ladley for his work with the UN in East Timor, the Palmerston North City Council for its active promotion of a culture of peace, Kevin Prime for his commitment to conservation and the social and economic development of Maori in Northland and Amnesty International.

UNESCO was established after the Second World War as a United Nations agency dedicated to the advancement of peace and international understanding through the exchange of information and ideas.

ENDS

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