An initiative to establish a Zone of Peace in Castle St,
North Dunedin, has given people food for thought. Brenda
Harwood takes a look at the concept.
It is hoped non-violence in word and action will become the
norm in Castle St, North Dunedin, which is to become a Zone
The initiative is being promoted by staff and students of the
National Centre For Peace and Conflict Studies, who are
calling on local organisations, residents and students for
Centre researcher Dr SungYong Lee said the formation of the
Zone of Peace called for those using the space to proactively
work towards a peaceful community.
''This is a chance for us to think intentionally about how we
want to treat each other, how we might generate a sustainable
future for the street . . [and how] to resolve issues between
us amicably and non-violently,'' Dr Lee said.
The Castle St Zone of Peace, which will be launched with a
lunchtime street party on August 1, will initially encompass
Castle St from the St David Lecture Theatre complex to Dundas
The area is busy with students night and day and includes
many organisations associated with the university, such as
Selwyn College, the Otago University Childcare Association
early-childhood centre, the Centre for Sustainability, the
Office of Maori Development, as well as the National Centre
for Peace and Conflict Studies itself.
Centre postgraduate student Griffin Leonard said Castle St
was chosen both for the array of organisations it contained,
but also because there were occasionally violent incidents in
the area. The Zone of Peace concept was suggested earlier
this year by visiting academic and international peace
activist Professor Ed Garcia, who had been concerned by some
reported behaviour and by children having to pass broken
bottles on their way the preschool.
''What we really want to establish is a warm and peaceful
environment for living and work,'' Mr Leonard said.
As the Zone of Peace developed, individuals and organisations
would be encouraged to dedicate themselves to three key goals
- supporting a sense of neighbourhood, maintaining
non-violent interactions and promoting a sustainable
environment, Dr Lee said.
''We also want to encourage the individuals who live and pass
through Castle St to make their own commitment to the
''In the future, if the initiative goes well, it could
possibly be expanded into a wider area - perhaps Dunedin
could eventually become a city of peace,'' he said.
Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull said he was impressed with the Zone
of Peace concept, describing it as ''a wonderfully
''If the Zones of Peace doubled in size every year, we could
have them all across Dunedin, which could be great for the
city,'' he said.
Otago University Students' Association president Ruby
Sycamore-Smith welcomed the Zone of Peace, saying Dunedin
students needed an environment where they could feel safe and
''Some students already feel homesick and have a sense of
uncertainty with the pressures of study.
''To have a calm, peaceful and tranquil place to reflect is a
necessity for them,'' she said.