Anniversary of Wellington's Nuclear Weapon Free Declaration


Today, when we mark such an important occasion in all of our lives, and in the social fabric of Wellington to be Nuclear Weapon Free, I'm strongly reminded of the words of Mahatma Ghandi:

"If we are to teach real peace in this world, and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with the children."

Just like the flame which burns in the Botanic Garden, that was lit from the fires that swept Hiroshima after the first nuclear bomb was detonated in war, we must never extinguish the struggle for peace.

And we must always pass that flame from generation to generation, so that our children and grandchildren never have to experience what our parents and grandparents endured in war.

Peace is not something we leave only to world leaders, as some problem to solve or as some magician's trick to be pulled from a hat.

Peace is something we must gift to our children, our parents, our friends and our colleagues - gifted in the very nature of everything we do and how we do it.

Peace is important at all levels and we can't just put all the blame on the half dozen specific countries which have nuclear weapons.

It was peace that brought me here to New Zealand.

Back in 1982, when Cr Ritchie was moving the motion that we mark here today, I supported peace movement by attending Greenham Common peace camp a couple of times. It has been now returned as a public nature reserve, certainly a better outcome than the screaming fighter jets and weapons of war that used to call that space home. I also marched to Upper Heyford to protest against F111s in 1983 before I left the UK for New Zealand. I didn't know Cr Ritchie back then, but we were united in a common cause for good.

One of the reasons why I came to New Zealand was its peaceful aspirations - it even featured as the only surviving country in John Wyndham's book The Chrysalids.

It always stuck with me that New Zealand was a safe place. We need to use that as a beacon to welcome people to Aotearoa, not as a fortress to keep people and ideas out.

In New Zealand, as a Councillor in 1994 I joined the many well-wishers to see off the flotilla that protested France's resumption of nuclear testing in Mururoa Atoll.

I'd now like to read the letter from Mayor of Hiroshima Kazumi MATSUI:

It is an honor and pleasure to send this message on the occasion of the 30th Anniversary of Nuclear Weapon Free Declaration by your city.

On August 6, 1945, an atomic bomb reduced Hiroshima to ashes and took the precious lives of 140,000 residents by the end of that year. The pain inflicted on the citizens of Hiroshima is simply indescribable-their beloved hometown obliterated, family and friends lost forever.

Our hibakusha, carrying in their hearts the voices and feelings of those sacrificed to the bomb, struggled day by day to survive and managed to bring this city back to life. At the same time, they continued to pursue the lasting peace of a world free from nuclear weapons. Now, their average age is over 77. I believe that the time has come to learn from all the hibakusha what they experienced and their desire for peace. Then, we must communicate what we learn to future generations and to each and every person around the world.

Hiroshima will pour everything we have into working, along with Nagasaki, to expand Mayors for Peace such that all cities, those places around the world where people gather, will strive together to eliminate nuclear weapons by 2020. Moreover, we will do our best to host the NPT Review Conference or other international conferences that will bring the world's policymakers to Hiroshima to discuss the nuclear non-proliferation regime.

The starting point for the actions that will move international society and determine the future for humankind is the power each citizen possesses. In this sense, we are deeply grateful that you are calling for peace through "the 30th Anniversary of Nuclear Weapon Free Declaration." I ask you to make Hiroshima's wish your own and strive with us toward lasting world peace.

In closing, I offer my warmest congratulations on your city's 30th Anniversary of Nuclear Weapon Free Declaration as well as continued good health and prosperity for all involved.

April 12, 2012

Mayor of Hiroshima
President of Mayors for Peace

I thank you all for being here today. Thirty years ago many of you made a great difference. And now, all of us must keep the flame of peace alive.

The speech delivered may vary from this text.