Getting Hands Dirty in Name of Race Relations

10 March 2009

Libraries around Wellington will be full of adults and children getting their hands dirty to make friendly armies of clay people next week. It's all in aid of Earth People, which celebrates Race Relations Day (21 March).

Newtown Library's Multicultural Community Specialist, Ada Nally, says making the clay figures is lots of fun but there's an important message behind them. "We're sure to get plenty of discussion about the similarities between us all. We all need food, water and family and we're ultimately one people.

"These little clay people are a great way to spread the message of accepting people of all ethnicities."

Everyone is welcome to come along to Newtown Library at 10.30am on Tuesday 17 March to share stories, songs and morning tea - and to make Earth People. The resulting figurines will be arranged in a peace symbol and photographed for posterity.

The Earth People concept began in 2005 at the Newtown Library with the Earth People displayed on the steps of Civic Square. The project has grown each year and while this year's Race Relations Day celebrations will be centred on Newtown Library, most other Wellington City libraries will be taking part.

Library staff have been working with Human Rights Commission staff to encourage other libraries around the country to take part in the Earth People initiative. Libraries in Hutt city, Upper Hutt, Waikanae, Otaki, Paraparaumu, Porirua, Waitakere and Hastings are all taking part.

Desigin Thulkanam, an advisor at the Human Rights Commission, says the Earth People concept is a fitting way to celebrate Race Relations Day. "One of the best ways of getting people to accept and celebrate diversity is to get them thinking about the similarities that transcend race."

The theme of this year's Race Relations Day is 'People in Your Neighbourhood'. A photo display in Newtown Library will reflect this theme with images showcasing the diversity of the surrounding community.

Some Earth People sessions will be open to the public, while others will be reserved for school group visits. To find out which libraries are taking part in the Race Relations Day celebrations, and which sessions are open to the public, visit the Wellington City Libraries website.