The Foreword

An extended version of the Foreword by Professor Kevin P Clements (Director, National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Otago).

Most New Zealanders remember a long line of Maori and Pakeha war heroes.  Te Kooti, Hone Heke, Te Rauparaha  are well known Maori warriors; Bernard Freyberg , Charles Upham, Arapeta Awatere, and Bill (Willy) Apiata have passed into folk memory for serving their country courageously. These men (for they are largely men) are honoured for being exemplary patriots and for specific acts of bravery in the face of fire. They were all prepared to kill on behalf of their own iwi or the New Zealand state in a range of just and unjust conflicts.

Those who oppose war and support the cultures and structures of peace are contributing to a space where non-military options to problems can be explored and exhausted before the use of force is contemplated.

There are, however, many others who have chosen a quite different path, that of pacifism and nonviolence. These men and women, for a variety of ethical, religious or political reasons, choose not to fight when their country calls, nor to use violence for any political purpose. In particular they do not wish to cede the most critical ethical question of all, namely when, if ever, it is appropriate to kill for the state. They  believe that such a decision should primarily be a matter of individual conscience. Resisting the state and standing up against hostile public opinion — especially during times of ‘national emergency’ and war — requires a very particular kind of courage and heroism and this book explores some of these courageous individuals.

Historically, all of New Zealand’s wars were opposed by those committed to searching for more peaceful solutions to the country’s internal and external problems. For example, there were many missionaries and secular humanitarians who vehemently opposed the 19th century Land Wars. It is interesting to reflect on what might have happened to Maori-Pakeha relations in the 21st century had these peacefully inclined individuals prevailed in the 19th. Similarly there was considerable opposition to the First World War from the Trade Union Movement, Christian Pacifists, Irish immigrants and Waikato Maori, (led by Te Puea Herangi )who could see no good reason why they should fight for the British Crown when they had just lost a war for their own Maori King. Although the Second World War was, arguably, more just than the First World War, it was resisted also by a wide cross section of Pacifists, Socialists and Humanitarians. The Korean War, the Malaysian Emergency, the War in Vietnam, as well as recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, have also engendered opposition movements .

This book commemorates some of the brave people who have chosen to oppose the state. In the case of Parihaka village, it celebrates those who chose nonviolence as their weapon when they were about to be forcibly evicted from their land. It also explores others who have chosen tactical and strategic non violence in opposition to militarism and injustice. You might ask why we should honour peace warriors? What have they contributed to the national good, national security or well being over the years? My answer is as follows:

All wars are very blunt and brutal instruments for achieving political ends. While defensive wars can often be justified, even these so called ‘just wars’ generate negative consequences for those who fight  them and for their opponents. It is imperative that there always be some individuals, groups and organisations who have a commitment  to a radically non-violent, pacifist position. Such individuals and groups are crucial for the generation of  clear alternatives to war. Without such people the cultures and structures of militarism and violence would remain unchallenged. Those who oppose war and support the cultures and structures of peace are contributing to a space where non military options to problems can be explored and exhausted before the use of force is contemplated.

To stand up for one’s beliefs — in opposition to the state or coercive power — is not a simple thing; it requires considerable strength and courage. All of the people in this book were able to resist strong social pressures to conform and obey those in power. They could do so because they had deep personal beliefs and values; the courage of their own convictions; and social support for their nonviolent resistance to authority. All believed in the power of friendly persuasion; the centrality of nonviolence; and the importance of affirming life and love in the face of more destructive forces. Some, like Lois White and Rita Angus linked creativity and personal pacifism to their art — they could not be true to their artistic muse while supporting the killing of others. Others, like Ormond Burton, had experienced the horror of war as a decorated soldier and could not let the carnage happen again. All, in their different ways, are good examples of what it means to live an examined and authentic life . Their witness adds considerable weight and meaning to the millions all around the world who wish to pursue peace by peaceful means and in this way generate a world free of war and injustice.

I commend this book to all who wish to  live their lives non-violently and without weapons. It provides many inspirational stories to sustain you on your journey. For those who have not yet made this choice, I hope that this book will enable you to understand the love, hope and courage of those that do.