2003 World Conference against A and H Bombs- Nagasaki
August 8, 2003

Garry Moore
Mayor of Christchurch City
New Zealand

There are two places where humanity got it very wrong, Nagasaki and Hiroshima, these are also an ideal sites for us to start to get it right this time.

It is utterly fitting that we should grow the seeds of hope, optimism and peace here where the awful harvest of hate, war and fear cast the grim shadow we all still live under.

When I was asked to speak here, about our commitment in Christchurch to peace, I was also faced with the question of showing effectively and firmly how this commitment takes active shape.

To achieve this goal I intend to tell you something of our more distant peace history. Before that I would also like to tell you a tale of where our desire for peace is going.

Christchurch is a city that, like many in the modern world, has gone through major changes to the city centre in recent years. Economic, social and technological change has meant that we have been faced with the challenge of finding new ways of using our central city spaces, in a way that renews and revitalises the inner city.

Like other cities we have had to face the fact that one of the best aids to peace is a sense of prosperity.

As we have changed the way our inner city functions we have also had to carry forward the reality that as the world's best Garden City a vital part of our sense of wealth of spirit comes from our parks, gardens and closeness throughout the city to nature.

When my council moved to buy a block of the inner city to make sure we got growth that fits our new model for inner city

Development, we also made sure that this land would not all be for buildings.

Part of the re-development plan for this area includes an inner city peace park, where people can enjoy some natural peace and also, hopefully, think about peace and the pursuit and preservation of peace.

A camphor tree grown from seed of the camphor tree that survived the nuclear blast here in Nagasaki and gifted to our city by you, Mayor Itoh, will be planted in this park. It will be a living witness and reminder to us of the horror that happened here, and also remind us of the ability of nature and humanity to survive in even the most horrific circumstances.

This park will be a feature of our future inner city landscape....a living reminder to those who go there of the need for peace and also of how all of us are citizens of one planet, and how we are all directly linked to one another.

A strong tree from Nagasaki will be a living part of the central city vision and landscape of Christchurch. I think that this story conveys to you here how deeply is the desire, by the people of Christchurch, to build a strong and lasting peace in our world. It is a wish and a commitment that runs deep in our city.

We formally declared Otautahi/Christchurch as New Zealand's first fully fledged Peace City in May 2002, in recognition of our long history of peacemaking.

At times the reality has been that our city has not only led the country, we have helped lead the world in matters of peace and anti-nuclear issues. Christchurch also took a lead in the evolution of stronger roles for women in society over many years.

Christchurch women, allied with the suffrage movement, won New Zealand women the first right to vote in the world in 1893, and it was them who also called in 1887 for a "permanent court of arbitration" to resolve international issues peacefully.

This organisation later became known, after World War Two, in 1946, as the International Court of Justice, also known as the World Court.

In 1947 the first public events to remember the horror of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were held in Christchurch. Since 1976 we have annually held a ceremony of floating lanterns down the Avon River, that flows through the city centre, to remember the souls lost at Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the vital importance of making sure it never happens again to anyone.

It was also in Christchurch that the New Zealand Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament was set up in 1960 with the late Elsie Locke and Mary Woodward in leadership roles.

We need to remember how much courage it took back then to make a stand for peace while most of the world was obsessed and terrified in the shadow of what became known as the Cold War.

This courage, this struggle to rid the world of such a massive wrong as nuclear weapons, did not go on without some strong support appearing, both in New Zealand and overseas.

It is a cause of pride for me to remember that it also just 30 years since a Christchurch Member of Parliament and Prime Minister Norman Kirk, sent our frigate Otago to the Mururoa nuclear test site to bear witness to the affront to us all that was French nuclear testing in the Pacific.

It was one of those David and Goliath stands for peace that Christchurch and New Zealand have been prepared to take time and time again. Prime Minister Kirk also took France to the World Court to try and stop them testing nuclear weapons in the South Pacific.

This visionary statesman for peace also wanted to host conferences for a South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone and a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. These goals were finally achieved in 1985 and 1996, long after Norman Kirk had died a premature death in office.

Thirty years later it is easier to see just what a truly great leader New Zealand lost with Prime Minister Kirk. I am absolutely sure that were he still here he would have said a resounding "no" to Mr Chirac's very recent claims that nuclear testing increased the standing of France on the world stage. Not with us it didn't. It diminished France in the South Pacific.

It was those who made a stand against it who deserve our respect. In 1982 Christchurch became the first New Zealand city to declare itself nuclear free.

During the 1980's there were about 40 local groups meeting regularly to work together to strengthen the prospects of peace, from individual peace through to efforts for world peace.

New Zealand again found itself on the world stage in 1987 when we declared ourselves nuclear free as a nation and banned the admission of nuclear vessels from our waters.

In the twilight of the Cold War it was a stand that both cost us dearly in some quarters and raised our standing much higher amongst peace supporters across the planet.

Another of Christchurch's milestones in the anti-nuclear movement came in 1986 when retired magistrate, Harold Evans, started the moves that led to the attempt to get the World Court to give an advisory opinion on the legality of nuclear weapons.

Christchurch based peace activist, Kate Dewes, is always quite insistent that the legend that the plan began around her kitchen table is not quite right. I suspect Kate may just want free and easy access to her table rather than risk it becoming a peace shrine.

Wherever in the house the idea was hatched, it does seem to have been an idea born somewhere in Christchurch. As most of you know, after 4 million declarations of public conscience and the endorsement of 700 groups globally, the 110-member Non-Aligned Movement co-sponsored a UN resolution asking for the Opinion.

In 1996 the World Court advised that the threat or use of nuclear weapons was generally illegal under existing international law, and that the nuclear states were obliged to negotiate in good faith toward complete nuclear disarmament. It was a massive step forward for all of us who want to rid the world of the plague of nuclear weapons.

In 1999 Christchurch joined 242 local authorities worldwide in backing a resolution calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons.

We belong to the World Conference of Mayors for Peace. Mayors for Peace started here with the Mayors of Nagasaki and Hiroshima. It now has the support of about 547 cities in 107 countries.

I believe it gives us a potent way to apply moral pressure to make sure, in two year's time in New York that the next review of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty gets a clear message from the peaceful people of the world.

Our message is wonderfully simple. We want this evil gone from our world. A nuclear-free world by 2020. A goal I'm sure you all support. I do.

Thank You