The Wanganui Peace Sculpture
In the beginning of year 2000 Peace through Unity embarked upon a culture of peace sculpture project in the city of Wanganui / Whanganui, New Zealand.
With the help of the regional Art Gallery, and with the approval of the Wanganui / Whanganui District Council, who donated the site for it on public ground, a culture of peace sculpture design competition was organized for all artists of the region. The winner’s name was announced at a multi-cultural celebration in the Gallery.
The design “Handspan”, chosen by 3 independent judges, is a large work of art, almost 20 meters in diameter, which rises in a double spiraled pathway to a height of about 3 meters with walls on each side, covered with some 4000 terracotta hand casts made from hand prints of community members of all ages (from 3 months to 106 years old) – each named.
On 18 September 2001, the land where the sculpture was to be built was blessed during a special Dawn Ceremony.
The construction was built through the combined skills and cooperation of people from many parts of the community: artists, construction workers, electricians, plumbers, plasterers, architects and engineers as well as all those who contributed a hand to the sculpture.
On 21st September 2002 the first fixed International Day of Peace the sculpture was dedicated to a culture of peace and non-violence for the children of the world by the New Zealand Governor-General at a ceremony on the historic hill at the heart of Wanganui City where it is situated, neighbouring the Regional Museum, the Art Gallery, the Public Library and the War Memorial.
A coffee table sized book “Wanganui Culture of Peace – 2002” has been published
as a memento and public record, describing in pictures and text the process of building the sculpture, the thoughts behind it and the people involved. Copies are available.