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.