New Zealand 1 March: Gisborne

Peace in Gisborne!

We offer our gratitude to Kath at the Asure Alfesco Motor Lodge who had us to stay for two nights. What a beautiful establishment she runs! Kath is originally from Australia and once upon a time was a great sprinter!

We offer her a painting by Sri Chinmoy and a book of inspiring aphorisms to thank her.

On our way out of town we meet this gentleman from the Ocean View Lodge. He says he would have had us come to stay if we'd called him and offered us a cup of tea at his lodge.

Our first school! We offer a short presentation to Kaiti School at the school gate.

We run on the sidewalk and the kids run on the grass.

Next we are greeted by Nolian, the principal of Wainui Beach School.

The kids have prepared this artwork to express their hopes and dreams for peace.

The school nominated local community members Darren and Linda Coulston to receive the Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run Torch Bearer Award, and we are grateful for this opportunity to honour their service to the community. Darren and Linda have been preparing a hangi for up to 500 people to fundraise for Kapa Haka uniforms for this school. Linda also runs the local Supergrans network, offering assistance to all those in need.

Darren reads a Maori proverb "Ma nga huruhuru ka rere te manu". He translates: "It is the feathers that enable a bird to fly". To him this means that it takes many people and many different things for a project to move forwards. Many people are needed for a community to flourish. We feel this is a perfect embodiement of the Peace Run's spirit - that everyone working together will be foundation of a peaceful world. Meeting people like these gives us great hope for the future.

Learning the World Harmony Run Song.

Watching our team perform a short play.

Making a wish for peace.

The school has a mural outside of it's many famous surfers who have been through the school.

We are delighted that the Gisborne Mayor - Rehette Stoltz offers up her lunch break to meet the the Peace Run team.

Rehette is eager to hear all about the activities of the Peace Run. She shares with us her inspiration to bridge the gap between rich and poor in her community. She has begun by introducing Maori Wards into Gisborne. As she explains to us, more voices in the conversation means more solutions put forwards.

We all come away from the meeting uplifted and inspired from meeting a woman with such forward thinking ideas and openness to every member of her community. Peace is on our horizon!

Our next school: Elgin School!

The kids were super enthusiastic to run with the torch.

Peace Runners Run!

One of our team members has family in Gisborne and they meet with us after the school. Meet Kate, Ralph, Hugo and Oscar!

Eastwoodhill Arboretum is NZ's National Arboretum. It has a colorful history, being established in 1910 as an arboreal ark for trees from all around the world, safeguarding our tree species against ecological and societal threats. It is the largest collection of trees and shrubs in the Southern Hemisphere.

We meet with Martin the Curator and Marion the Manager. Their mission statement is "to develop and exhibit a collection of diverse plant species that contributes to the conservation of global diversity and creates a unique environment for the appeciation of life."

It is an absolute honour that Eastwoodhill has accepted our invitation into the Sri Chinmoy Peace Blossoms Programme. In their efforts to preserve trees from all around the world, they demonstrate that the love for our world and all it's plant life goes beyond the borders of nations. They stand in a unique position as an endeavour that appeals to the hearts of persons all the world over.

When we preserve something against any kind of threat, we nurture the hope that some day these pressures will be resolved, and what we preserve again will flourish. Eastwoodhill represents faith in a bright future for our world.

Martin takes us on a tour around the arboretum.
Here he suddenly lies down on the ground and tells us to look up.

Into the Mexican pine trees that offer this astonishing vista. The trees like to keep a little space between each other to allow for a particular gas they produce. Martin can name any tree that you see and tell you fascinating details about how and why they look and live like they do.

Those trees planted yonder will someday grow in the shape of Westminster Abbey..

If you are ever travelling in Gisborne we wholeheartedly recommend you visit Eastwoodhill. It is permeated with a peace and beauty that is nurturing for the human spirit. Doctors in Japan are now offering two day prescriptions for time in nature. Forest bathing is the new health regime. You will not want to leave.

Bollywood Stars Restaurant showed their support of the Peace Run with wonderful meals for the runners. Georgia and Ocean from Bollywood are here holding the torch. Thanks for keeping us happy and nourished!