History of The Peace Foundation

The Foundation for Peace Studies Aotearoa/New Zealand Inc, with operating name of The Peace Foundation aims to promote a climate of peace in Aotearoa-New Zealand and beyond, together with a public understanding of the mutual interdependence of all peoples (and countries). To this end the Foundation works to “provide practical tools for peaceful living” by: 
 
  • Encouraging peace education as an integral part of both the education system and the wider community
  • Encouraging the media to adopt a positive and balanced approach to issues affecting peace
  • Providing resources and information for decision-making bodies about peace
  • Providing advice on education, social justice, foreign affairs, defence and disarmament policies
  • Acting as a clearing house for the exchange of ideas and information concerning peace issues

The Peace Foundation was formed in 1975 with the vision of building peaceful local, national and global communities. In pursuing this mission we are committed to honouring Te Tiriti O Waitangi, human rights and the peaceful resolution of conflict, and to modelling peace-making values within the Foundation and beyond. The initiative came from a small group of people who were concerned about the growing levels violence in the world. Some had experience in overseas posts and were sensitive to world issues. A number of the original group were members of the Society of Friends (Quakers) who had followed with interest the establishment of a Chair of Peace Studies at the University of Bradford in the United Kingdom. Many universities around the world now present peace studies courses but in 1975 they were rare. The Foundation came into being at a time when 'peace' was far from fashionable and its people worked with commitment and enthusiasm to promote peace education, the role of the UN and nuclear disarmament throughout New Zealand. The Foundation's role in providing material resources and information to other groups as they developed during the 1980s was vital. The decision to bring Dr Helen Caldicott to New Zealand, in 1983, can be pinpointed as a crucial turning point in the history of both the peace movement and the country as a whole. She helped spark a tremendous awakening and upsurge in activity that carried through to enable sufficient energy to be focused on activities that led to New Zealand passing the Nuclear Free Zone Act in 1987.  Such occurrences happen only rarely in the life of any organisation, but it can be fairly claimed that the everyday 'spadework' for over a decade (1975-1987), although less spectacular, played an equally important role in New Zealand's crucial decision to take the stand against nuclear weapons that was hailed by many around the world as a sane step in an insane world, and a beacon of hope.