BY ROB POOLEY
While we constantly see marches protesting against war, a group with a different message stopped off at Mangawhai last week bringing a positive message of peace.
Up to 15 members of the Sri Chinmoy Peace Run movement are running the length of New Zealand in relay as part of their Southern Hemisphere crusade covering between three and five kilometres per runner and around 100 kilometres per day.
Several of their number have also run up to ultra-marathon level so they are enjoying a pleasant jog through our countryside.
The group left Cape Reinga early on March 4 and, carrying their peace torch and flags representing their numerous countries of origin including New Zealand, USA, Ukraine, Czeckoslovakia and Italy they have thus far enjoyed the best of summer weather on the 2,700 kilometre journey.
The Peace Run movement was founded in 1987, running across almost every nation in the world since that time spreading the spirit of harmony, peace and oneness.
“It is a simple message,” said spokesperson and New Yorker Natbara Rollessen who has been a Peace Run member since 1991.
“We do not solicit or accept money, we come from all over the world and from many denominations. We do not promote religion. We simply want bring about an awareness for people to understand that peace comes within, through meditation, through the way we live and the way we choose to live.”
It is not always safe or possible to stick to main roads but the members marvelled at the scenery of our little country and the generosity of the people, stopping off at small towns, cultural sites, several schools including Mangawhai where they enjoy the frank, open and often funny interaction with the children.
Through pre-arranged generosity the group stay overnight at backpacker lodges and campgrounds free of charge.
“We have to give a shout out to Campervan World in Auckland who donated the use of two vans plus gas for the four weeks of our New Zealand run and the wonderful reception we have had at schools plus our accommodation suppliers,” said Rollessen. The message they carry is welcomed by many churches and has been acclaimed by notaries such as Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela and Pope Francis.
The New Zealand leg is part of a Southern Hemisphere run which began in Bali in January and will end in Bali in late October in a continuous route through 44 countries.
Pictures of their Kiwi run can be seen on their website peacerun.org.