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Tony Watkins

 ~ Vernacular Design 

The most peaceful people on earth Print E-mail
ImageOn Tuesday 17 June 2008 the Te Papa Marae, Wellington, was video linked to the Kopinga Marae in Rekohu (the Chatham Islands) for New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Helen Clark, to announce a NZ$6,000.000 grant to the Te Keke Tura Moriori Trust “to preserve, revive, support and promote” Moriori identity. She also formally recognised Moriori as a “foundation people”.

The particular significance of the Moriori people is that 24 generations before 1835 Nunuku, an Ieriki or elder, proclaimed an end to warfare. For some 500 years these people lived in peace and harmony, and became the nation with the longest formal commitment to peace in the history of the world.

Even when two individual began to fight the fight was instantly stopped and peace declared as soon as blood was drawn. 

Rekohu had no contact with the “outside world” before 1791. When the Chatham Islands were invaded by Maori the Moriori people refused to fight and their culture, traditions and language almost passed out of existence. 

The grant to them by the New Zealand Government, and the formal recognition of them as a people, acknowledges their legacy of peace and the example they had set to the rest of the world.

Anyone wishing to know a little more about the Moriori should look at Barry Barclay’s feature film “Feathers of Peace”. This film won a New Zealand Media Peace Award a couple of years ago. (If you cannot find a DVD it should be available from AroVideo in Wellington and they would post it.)

This film and the work of the historian Michael King played a significant part in the recognition of the Moriori as the most peaceful people on earth. Sadly Barry died a few months ago and Michael died last year but their work now lives on in the renaissance of a nation which refused to take up arms at enormous personal cost.

Tony Watkins


Published in the Arc-Peace Newsletter Number 24 September 2008 

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