I attended a memorial ceremony at the Peace Bell in Hagley Park this morning. There were more people attending than there has been for years. It was led by young people and was really moving.
At one stage I was international vice-President of Mayors for Peace. The Mayor of Nagasaki, Mayor Ito, visited Christchurch once as we had been such an active City in the peace movement. He brought with him a camphor tree. In fact, he had brought two. He had brought one for Auckland, but the Mayor at the time, John Banks had refused to receive him. So, we got them both.
The seedlings were from a Camphor tree which was 300 metres from the epi-centre of the nuclear bomb. Miraculously it survived. I have stood underneath it one time when I was in Nagasaki (a city well worth visiting). The seedling was kept in isolation at Lincoln for some months and eventually planted in Hagley Park. It is growing alongside the Peace Bell.
Mayor Ito was born 3 months after the nuclear bomb and he remained a life-long peace promoter around the world. His speeches always finished with “let my City be the last City in the world which experiences a nuclear bomb.”
Mayor Ito was gunned down in 2007 in a very suspicious manner. The peace movement owes this man so much.
Here’s a photo of Nagasaki after the bomb.