In the early 1980s in Aotearoa New Zealand, we had been through an exercise in non-violent direct action to protest our government involving our country with the apartheid regime in South Africa through the hosting of rugby games which a large part of the community did not support or want to happen in our country.
We began to march weekly as groups of women who endeavoured to stay together through the day, counting on each other’s commitment to non-violence.
In the next couple of years we continued this solidarity in our quest for New Zealand to become nuclear free. In particular we responded to the calls from the occupation at Greenham Common in the UK and to the work of Helen Caldecott a paediatrician who called on women everywhere to be aware of the dire threat to all children (and all of us) of nuclear armaments.
In the two largest cities, Auckland and Wellington, groups sang on the streets and out of this in 1983 emerged a peace action called “Pramazon’s” where six women walked with six prams and two children for over 300 km round the East Cape of New Zealand. We spoke, told stories, sang and performed a piece about the nuclear actions in the Pacific Ocean.
Those of us who could walk were supported by others. Two women artists created a tapestry of interwoven silk which we named the “Korero Mat”. We would unroll the mat and sit around it, for meditation and when decisions had to be made. We would talk and meditate until we came to a decision that all could live with.
The six weeks of this project created a deep group consciousness and awareness, felt and activated to different extents by each of us over the following decades. When a parent died, when a baby was born, when a ritual was needed, when depression hit, when a peace action was called for, the group was a solid and dependable energetic presence which could be and was called on.
In the last three years, we returned to the part of New Zealand where we walked; we created a book for the children there, to explain a little of how NZ became nuclear free and the part their parents and grandparents played in supporting us and our peace walk. We received money to publish 5,000 copies of the book from a fund set up after the French Government had to pay reparations to the government of our country after they bombed a Greenpeace ship that was in our harbour.
We created a website to support the book, and on it you can hear some of our songs. It is www.pramazons.co.nz
(For myself, i realise at the age of 69 that my deep commitment to peace is very much connected to my father’s experience as an escaped prisoner of war in 1944 when the people of the Friuli area of Italy took care (at great risk to themselves) of him and his friends as they made their way to the mountains to work with the partisans and eventually over into Switzerland. We will never forget what was done by the families of the Tagliamento area and up into the hills. Group consciousness often has roots in ancestral experiences too… we are made of a unique mix in each life, perhaps, the incarnating one plus the genetic material and inheritance of this particular incarnation. We belong to infinity and also to our unique moment of history. Externalisation of the spiritual world demands our action in both arenas! )
By Fe Day