Peace and Disarmament
SGI Oceania Peace Conference and SGI Peace Culture Festival Held in New Zealand
From November 18-20, the fourth SGI Oceania Peace Conference was held in Wellington, New Zealand. The overall theme of the conference, for which some 200 SGI members from 14 countries in Oceania gathered, was "Writing Our Own Chapter in the History of Human Revolution."
The opening ceremony was held on November 18, celebrated within the Soka Gakkai as its founding day. In his message to the conference, SGI President Daisaku Ikeda shared his deepest appreciation for the constant efforts of SGI members and stated that his earnest wish is for each person to "overflow with vitality and burn with passion, shining radiantly like the sun that sends a light of hope into people's hearts."
A message from the President of the Republic of Palau, H.E. Johnson Toribiong, was also read. In it, President Toribiong described the conference as a way to deepen friendship among the people of Oceania and to create, through dialogue, a culture of peace. After the opening ceremony, SGI members from Australia and New Zealand attended a study session led by Jeff Kriger, SGI North America and Oceania Study Department leader.
In addition, on November 18, the first Oceania Young Women's Summit was held in the New Zealand Parliament. Two members of the New Zealand Parliament, Charles Chauvel and Katrina Shanks, were present at the event.
On November 20, "Summoning Hope" was the theme of the first SGI Oceania Peace Culture Festival which was held at the Opera House in Wellington. SGI-NZ members from Christchurch, which has suffered two large earthquakes in the past year, were among the 1,400 members from 14 countries who attended. The festival celebrated the warmth and brightness of the human heart through various mediums including music and dance. There was also a pōwhiri, which is a Māori welcoming ceremony that involves speeches, dance, song and hongi, a traditional Māori greeting.
[Adapted from articles in November 29 and December 1, 2011, issues of the Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai, Japan and articles in November and December 2011 issues of Focus magazine, SGI-NZ; photos courtesy of Seikyo Shimbun]