Today, 2 October, the anniversary of the birth of Mahatma Gandhi (see Google's heading), is the UN International Day of Non-Violence.
This morning in Wellington it was marked by the start of a World Peace March. Over the next 90 days, it will wind its way through 90 countries on six continents, ending in the Andes Mountains (Punta de Vacas, Aconcagua, Argentina) on January 2, 2010. Along the way, it will involve millions of people.
In Wellington the march also marked the opening of the Peace Heritage Walk. That's where I came in. I'm one of the group of women who set up and raised money for the Peace Award commemorating the life and work of Sonja Davies.
Starting at Gandhi's statue at the Railway Station, the march moved past Pou Whenua (Wai-titi landing markers) and into Parliament's grounds. Rosemary Barrington, the group's chair, and I were waiting beside the kowhai tree planted in honour of Sonja. It's in the native plant garden on the right of the path winding up from the lower gates near the Cenotaph.
The plaque beneath it records her years as an MP and her lifelong commitment to peace and social justice. Unfortunately the website on the March doesn't mention that Sonja's tree is part of the Walk - we'll have to make sure that's changed.
I just happen to be reading Vera Brittain's Testament of Experience, about the aftermath of the first world war (which took her brother and fiance), her commitment to the peace movement, the devastating outbreak of the second world war, her attempts to keep the cause of peace alive through the carnage, and what happened to her and her friends as a result.
The gallant but not very large band of marchers this morning, climbing determinedly up the path against the surging gusts of wind, linked straight back through Sonja to Vera and all the women and men standing alongside them, insisting that there has to be a better way.
The Peace Heritage Walk was continuing this afternoon, after a concert at St Andrew's on the Terrace. It visits the Museum of City and Sea's exhibition on the Wellington Nuclear Weapon free Zone and ends at the waterfront monument for child refugees from the second world war.
At 4 pm (just coming up as I write this) there's a commemoration at the Parihaka memorial in Buckle Street of the nonviolent struggle of the Parihaka people for justice. Tonight there's a public forum with the international walkers at Tapu te Ranga marae, 7pm-9pm.