Peace­ful pro­test­ers start trek


If you see a group of walk­ers head­ing north on the na­tion’s roads this sum­mer, don’t be sur­prised if they wave.

They’re the Kiwi Ris­ing Hikoi 2017 peace­ful protest march, which pro­motes en­vi­ron­ment and com­mu­nity, and wav­ing is their spe­cial­ity.

In fact, Dr Phillipa (Pip) Te Paea Pehi of Kaitaia, who first walked from Bluff to Cape Reinga three years ago with sis­ter Han­nah Irakau Pehi, of Whakatane, said they’ve given the term wave­ol­ogy a whole new mean­ing.

‘‘Our motto is ‘Don’t just walk, wave’. There’s noth­ing like wav­ing and hav­ing some­one wave back. It’s all about con­nec­tion with peo­ple.’’

Their path to cre­at­ing aware­ness of the grass­roots val­ues they’re pas­sion­ate about started in South­land on Jan­uary 1.

They’re pass­ing through Otago this week, and stopped at Bal­clutha dur­ing the week­end, hosted by Bal­clutha Mo­tor Camp, where they picked up Clutha youth worker Ruth Rat­cliffe. She is a former col­league of walk­ing group mem­ber and youth worker Michela Car­ring­ton, who did the in­au­gu­ral march three years ago. Ruth did the Mil­ton leg, as a show of sup­port.

‘‘I’m so pleased to be part of it, even just a small bit.’’

The women said they felt that as a na­tion, ‘‘we are fall­ing short of what we need to be do­ing, to live in a heal­ing com­mu­nity’’, to pro­vide the ba­sics, such as food and shel­ter.

Cre­at­ing aware­ness for the plight of New Zealand’s dis­en­fran­chised youth was also a big fo­cus of the walk, lead­ing up to this year’s New Zealand gen­eral elec­tion, Han­nah said.

‘‘We are not po­lit­i­cally or re­li­giously aligned. We walk for the good­ness of all.’’

How­ever, she was con­cerned about liv­ing in what she termed was an econ­omy-driven, rather than peo­ple-fo­cused so­ci­ety.

Join­ing them this year is Pip’s 13-year-old daugh­ter Maia Pe­hiHan­nah, who will study en route.

While still plan­ning to carry full packs for much of the jour­ney, this year they’ve added a sup­port ve­hi­cle, to carry the equip­ment re­quired to house and feed them while they walk a max­i­mum 20km to 30km a day. That’s four to six hours of walk­ing, on the 2,222.8km trek, which could be about 90km longer this time, on the In­land Route 70 - Kaik­oura de­tour as they head north.

‘‘It’s painful. Your body hurts, but your soul feels good,’’ Pip said.

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