Thursday, 11 December 2008

an amazing day

what an amazing day we had yesterday. from beginning to end, it was inspirational. we started off at the museum, for the opening of the "walk with me" exhibition. it's a lovely, interactive exhibition. then we had the silent march - well, not so silent with a couple of hundred exuberant primary school children from hamilton east primary school chattering along the way. we walked along hamilton's main street and through garden place to the civic plaza.

the kids performed for us, and they were totally awesome. we had a couple of speeches and some brilliant musical performances from young local artists and a couple of not so young ones as well. chris thompson & dimitri edwards were real stars, but bruce clark, tim steers, jamie wise, and rab heath were great as well. luckily we had a sunny day and a great atmosphere.

the evening programme was even better, with a range of people working in various NGOs in hamilton. each of them were excellent speakers, taking on a particular aspect of human rights. so we had, for example, barbar redfern who spoke of her 30-year experience of welcoming refugees into hamilton and helping them to settle; phil grey, manager of community radio hamilton, who spoke about free speech and the media; zinai siviter, the manager of shama, who spoke about the pressures faced by women from ethnic minorities and the support shama provides them; an iranian baha'i refugee who spoke of the effects of not having access to education; and karen morrison-hume, director of anglican action, who spoke brilliantly about the self-imposed slavery that many nz'ers live under.

i'm hoping that we can get some of these speeches up on the waikato interfaith council website, so they are accessible to everyone. the pity about the day was that most people participating already work in the area of human rights, and who are already aware of a lot of the issues. it's how to get the message out to the wider community that always remains a challenge.

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