South Islanders will march from Bluff to Picton in a journey to wake the nation to the world’s dire environmental plight.
Church leaders have organised the 945km journey up State Highway 1 during the Christian season of Lent to highlight the dangers of climate change, the high demand for South Island water for irrigation and hydro power, and people’s “fundamentally wrong” attitude toward the Earth, organiser Mark Gibson says.
Walk for the Planet will be launched on Stewart Island on Shrove Tuesday, February 24, with pancakes. The walk starts from Bluff on February 28 and finishes on the steps of Parliament on April 12 where walkers will present politicians with demands for stronger environment policies.
It reaches Cathedral Square in Christchurch in time for Earth Hour on March 28. Harriers and cyclists will cover the Cheviot to Ward section.
Rev Gibson said organisers were inspired by previous long-distance marches like the 1975 Maori Land March and the 1998 Hikoi of Hope in which 30,000 people marched to Wellington to protest government policies that created poverty.
The idea of Walk for the Planet grew out of discussions on global warming, peak oil and the greening of the church.
Walk for the Planet was a chance for people to express concern for the well-being of Earth and to share hope for the future, he said. By using the 40 days of Lent to walk part or all the journey, walkers were highlighting the need to slow down and reflect on their relationship with the planet.
“Our over-reliance on motor vehicles contributes hugely to climate change and resource depletion. We depend on getting around as quickly as possible, surrounded by metal,” Rev Gibson said.
Events to raise awareness of climate change are also planned for Invercargill, Dunedin, Oamaru, Timaru, Kaikoura and Picton as the walk passes through.
New Zealand overseas aid agency, Christian World Service, is launching its climate change policy with the beginning of the walk. People in poor and developing countries are hit hardest by the warming of the earth, campaign coordinator Gillian Southey says.
January 30, 2009