Walk For the Planet (continued)
In the last weeks of March and early April, the Walk for the Planet continued to make its way up the South Island through Canterbury and Marlborough. Among the highlights was arriving in Christchurch’s Cathedral Square for Earth Hour on March 28th. On Good Friday eight walkers took the ferry across Cooks Strait to Wellington. On Easter Sunday they made their way from Island Bay to Parliament for some final words, and afterwards some joined the Easter Day Evensong service at St Pauls Anglican Cathedral.
Prior to the Walk departing from Ashburton for Christchurch, several members of the co-ordinating committee accepted an invitation from Environment Canterbury (ECan) in Christchurch to share the philosophy and purpose behind the walk. Their presentation linked in with ECan’s launch of its sustainable community programme. The Walk itself reached Dunsandel on Thursday March 26th and the walkers were invited to share some highlights of the walk with the parish meeting held that evening. The next day they walkers set off from Dunsandel to Rolleston. On the way they crossed the totally dry Selwyn River. The Selwyn River is in deep trouble. It has pollution in its lower reaches and is shrinking by 600 metres a year. Its condition is a contentious issue in Canterbury. Some say it is a cyclical thing, others that it is a sign that the groundwater reserves under the plains are beginning to be over drawn by irrigation.
After a generous lunch in Rolleston provided by the local Cooperating Church they moved on to Templeton. There they enjoyed a welcome cup of tea at the Anglican Church hall before dispersing for the night.
On the Saturday March 28th about 20 walkers set out from Templeton to enter Christchurch’s western suburbs. At the Methodist church at Church Corner the Women’s Fellowships put on a spread for afternoon tea. (Did anyone lose weight from all this walking? Probably not!). The number of walkers swelled at this point and set off down Riccarton Road and across Hagley Park. Two other groups of walkers joined them from other parts of the city. On arrival in the Square, the walk received a welcome on the stage of ‘Earth Hour’. The Anglican bishop of Christchurch Diocese, Victoria Matthews welcomed the walkers and Mark Gibson spoke on behalf of the walk
about the need to do the hard yards for the planet not just for one hour, or one month but in an ongoing way. On Sunday afternoon walkers took part of a forum held in the Cathedral. A special liturgy followed the sharing of thoughts and readings from those present; symbols were brought forward as we meditated on our response for the care of God’s creation.
On Monday, a group of walkers, including two MPs, Russel Norman (Greens) and Nicky Wagner (National), left Cathedral Square heading north for Kaiapoi.
NORTH CANTERBURY AND MARLBOROUGH
Numbers thinned out in North Canterbury and harriers and bicyclists joined the walk to cover some of the longer distances. A core group three walkers made the 34 km trip from Greta Valley to Cheviot. In Cheviot a highlight was a visit to an inspirational tree-planting project at Gore Bay where thousands of native trees are being established to improve coastal stability and biodiversity.
The 68 km stretch from Cheviot to Kaikoura was made by five Methodist Harriers from Christchurch who ran the distance relay style. The 80 km distance to Ward, was covered by cyclists. In Ward the team was happy to relax at the farmstead of local Anglican vicar Miriam Taylor. The 20 km leg from Ward to Seddon passed through dry, rolling sheep country and occasionally vineyards. At Seddon one of the walkers visited New Zealand's first fully eco-vineyard which has made a commitment to increase biodiversity and generate all its energy needs through wind and solar.
The next day the Walk made its way into Blenheim through the Awatere Valley where lots of land is planted in vineyards. Along the way the visited a small company called
Carbonscape, that is developing revolutionary technology for locking carbon in soil as biochar. In Picton the team was given warm hospitality by the parish community of Holy Trinity, and some joined in an ecumenical foot washing service on the foreshore. After such a long walk the liturgy was powerfully meaningful.
On Easter Sunday 15 people walked from the beach at Island Bay to Civic Square on the downtown Wellington waterfront. There they were joined by other walkers including the small team from Christchurch who had travelled up for the walk finale. At the steps of Parliament the group was about 30 strong. They unfurled the large scroll was covered in people's concerns and messages of support. Walk coordinator Mark Gibson spoke and encouraged everyone to continue the Walk in their daily lives. He talked about the stories of hope gathered between Rakiura and Picton and outlined the steps that will now be taken to bring concerns and challenges to members of Parliament. He thanked Geoffrey Love and Hugh Klein for their commitment to the walk in travelling the whole way. Mark says connections have been through the Walk that can live on. While the Walk has ended in one sense, if people nurture these connections it has only just begun. "As the couple on the road to Emmaus discovered it’s when we walk together that we discover that death does not have the final say. Let's go on walking together making and sharing stories of hope for the planet," Mark says.
Walk for the Planet in Wellington: Organisers urged walkers to keep moving in their efforts to change the way we treat creation.