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Meet Auckland’s Peace Diplomat [New Zealand]
un articulo por I am Woman, Indian Weekender (reprinted by permission)

In our pursuit of global empowerment - I am Woman was a proud supporter of the Auckland Peace City Celebration of Nuclear Free New Zealand along with the United Nations on the 27th September 2014. This was the first anniversary of the United Nations International Day for the total elimination of nuclear weapons. The driving force behind this event was Auckland City’s Peace diplomat – Ms Laurie Ross. She is also a member of the board of advisors at I am Woman. We caught up with Laurie to share with us her journey and contribution to ensuring that New Zealand remains a Nuclear free zone. Here is the interview with Laurie Ross -

Auckland City’s Peace diplomat- Ms Laurie Ross

click on photo to enlarge

IAW : What is the role of women in World Peace?

Laurie: Mahatma Gandhi said “Nonviolence is not merely a personal virtue. It is also a social virtue to be cultivated like other virtues.”This century is being called the century of women, as such women have a pivotal role to play in the peace process. Women are the mothers who nurture the children and teach them values and behaviours for peace within the family and community. Women must awaken to their inherent power and leadership role in the work for world peace. As women become educated they question the prevailing narratives that maintain the culture of warfare with the huge civilian suffering it entails. Women are growing in knowledge, strength and courage to oppose this global cultural indoctrination that perpetuates war and killing. Women can and must become empowered leaders for peace work on all levels of our society and in all spheres of activity.

IAW : Please tell us about your journey?

Laurie : My father Larry Ross brought the family to New Zealand in 1962 from Montreal Canada with the idea that he could work more effectively for peace, nuclear disarmament and survive a limited nuclear war in the Northern hemisphere. (I was the eldest of 6 children). He first established the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation in 1964 during my student years at home so I was very aware of the threat of nuclear war and how it could destroy all life on earth. I also learned from my father how to work effectively to help people become informed, courageous and exercise their political freedom to transform apathy, anger and despair into positive action.

In 1982-87- I was Coordinator of the West Auckland Peace Group and worked intensively organising public information stalls, marches and rallies, lobbying politicians, education events etc. Meanwhile, I was also a fulltime wife and mother (2 daughters) earning a living as a sales/marketing representative with various companies. (Now I am a fulltime grandmother of four children)Throughout my life I have always been a practitioner of Buddhist philosophy and studied many other religions and spiritual paths. I am a member of SGINZ since 2008 and am impressed with their work to promote peace, culture and education across the world.

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Although I work on various social and environmental issues and support many campaigns for human rights and non-violence etc, I have recognised the importance and value of my role to maintain a consistent focus on achieving the goal of elimination of nuclear weapons.

Since 2010 I have worked mainly through the Peace Foundation and UNANZ to establish the Auckland City for Peace Declaration and manifestation of this in a variety of Peace City
Projects.Most recently I worked with Whau and Waitakere Ranges Local Boards to produce a Peace City Celebration of Nuclear Free New Zealand. This was also the first UN International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. I am glad that I am Woman and the Indian Weekender were a part of this event.We also asked Laurie about New Zealand’s history in becoming Nuclear Free and how we common people can contribute to world peace.

IAW: What is the history behind New Zealand being nuclear free?

Laurie: In 1958 the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) was established in Britain with branches throughout the world including New Zealand. British, American and French nuclear testing was done in the South Pacific (1950s-1990s) which caused great concern to New Zealanders who were motivated to stop this radioactive contamination activity of the atmosphere, water and land that endangered the health of people in the Pacific.

In 1973, the NZ government under Norman Kirk sent a brigade to protest against French nuclear tests at MururoaAtoll as did the Greenpeace ships creating significant international attention. Between 1975-’84, the NZ Peace Squadron was formed of private sailing vessels to protest against the visits of American nuclear warships and submarines to NZ harbours.In 1976, the Campaign Half Million petition stopped the NZ government from investment in nuclear energy schemes.

Between 1981-2007, the New Zealand Nuclear Free Zone Committee was established by Larry Ross of Christchurch. (Later known as NZ Nuclear Free Peacemaking Association). He presented a carefully structured strategic plan for achieving this goal which was adopted at the annual New Zealand Peace Conference. It was based on the1978 United Nations Resolutions on the importance and value of individual states or groups of nations declaring themselves Nuclear Free Zones and thus contributing to nuclear disarmament in the international community.

In 1982 the Peace Movement grew at a phenomenal rate through neighbourhood peace groups forming in every town throughout the land who proceeded with public education, petitions and promotion for a Nuclear Free NZ and lobbying their local councils. . ... continuación.

Este artículo ha sido publicado on line el November 5, 2014.