Sir Graham Henry and Lady Raewyn Henry.

History’s longest and largest participation relay for world peace ever seen passed through the Auckland region this week, part of an epic 2,700 km length of New Zealand event. Runners are visiting more than twenty towns and cities throughout March, carrying the ceremonial torch on its month-long nationwide and global journey. An 80-nation initiative seeking to encourage cultural understanding and a more peaceful world, the Peace Run fosters international friendships and offers educational peace programs to the world’s children – this year the relay will visit every one of the 44 nations in the Southern Hemisphere. Following the March 4th opening ceremony on the Aupouri Peninsula in the far north, runners from twelve different countries are relaying a burning torch from Cape Reinga to Bluff, with political and civic leaders, sports personalities and some 40,000 schoolchildren nationwide participating.

Now in it’s 15th edition in New Zealand, the relay is part of a six continent journey covering 70,000 km globally and offering the simple message that world peace begins in our own lives –‘Peace begins with you and me.’ Throughout the event, runners visit schools and community groups to offer interactive programs highlighting the many ways in which we can contribute to a brighter future. Along the way, people from all walks of life join the Peace Run relay to support it’s simple purpose. From Bluff, volunteers will take the torch on through Oceania – Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Rarotonga, Tuvalu – and then across the Pacific for the relay’s continuing journey through South America.

Precious McKenzie and his wife, Elizabeth

In New Zealand past Peace Run patrons have included Allison Roe, Precious McKenzie, Hall of Fame athlete Rod Dixon, the late and legendary Arthur Lydiard and Olympians John Walker, Ian Ferguson and former All Black coach Graham Henry. Top New Zealand sportspeople such as Valerie Adams and Indy 500 winner Scott Dixon have also expressed their enthusiasm for the relay, joining a long list of national and world leaders inspired by the global event.

Millions of children in more than 140 nations have experienced the Peace Run’s peace education program, which teaches children through peace-themed art, music, drama and sports initiatives how to prevent conflict and build a more peaceful environment in their own community.

David and Malek with the Pullman Hotel running team.

“A peaceful world is a really unifying dream we all share” says local relay co-ordinator Dan Rubin. “This year we’ve had a fantastic outpouring of community support – the welcoming Auckland banquet evening offered by the Pullman Hotel, free vehicles supplied by Campervan World 33 Ltd, petrol and other costs met by Downlights/Illumina and Interworld fundraising to name a few. People love to contribute in some way to help build a brighter future.”

The Peace Run was inaugurated in 1987 by the late Sri Chinmoy, who believed that a global relay dedicated to peace could build international friendships and understanding and have a positive effect on world affairs.

For more information please visit our website: www.peacerun.org/nz