The World Peace Bell was gifted to Christchurch by the World Peace Bell Association and unveiled in 2006. It is New Zealand's only peace bell.

Peace Bell

World Peace Bell Association

In the aftermath of the Second World War the former mayor of Shikoku, Chiyoji Nakagawa, presented the United Nations with a token of peace in the form of a large bell reminiscent of those seen in large temples throughout Japan.

The bell was cast from coins donated by UN member countries, symbolic of the world being one. The bell was unveiled in 1954 at the UN headquarters in New York and represents everlasting world peace and a world free from nuclear war.

In 1982, the World Peace Bell Association was formed to continue Mr Nakagawa's goal of promoting world peace with the installation of replica peace bells all over the world.

In 2002 Christchurch was declared the first Peace City in New Zealand. A Peace Bell was gifted to the city by the World Peace Bell Association in Japan.

 

New Zealand World Peace Bell

The Christchurch Botanic Gardens was chosen as the location for the New Zealand peace bell. Once the site was blessed by Ngai Tahu, a raised pavilion was constructed in 2005.

Like the other peace bells, the New Zealand World Peace Bell was cast from coins and medals from around the world and mixed with copper. The massive 365 kg bell is inscribed with the English 'World Peace Bell' and Japanese translation 'sekai heiwa no kane'.

The official unveiling took place in 2006 with a ceremony that involved the Christchurch mayor and the World Peace Bell Association founder ringing the bell together. 

The bell is a prominent icon when entering the Gardens from the daffodil woodlands. Blossom trees corner the pavilion and green lawns with mature exotic trees spread out around it. Near to the bell sits an attractive grove of Japanese maples (Acer palmatum), a fitting backdrop as maples symbolise peace, serenity and tolerance. A camphor tree is nearby, the seedling propagated from a camphor that survived the atomic bombing of Nagasaki and gifted to Christchurch by the Mayor of Nagasaki.

Community use

The World Peace Bell attracts many people, locals and visitors alike, for events and memorials throughout the year and has come to represent a place of serenity and reflection.

Significant community events usually occur on the International Day of Peace in September and the anniversaries of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings in August.

More recently the bell has been rung during the Canterbury earthquake memorials, in remembrance of victims of the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, and for Holocaust Remembrance Day. 

You can stay up to date with events on the New Zealand World Peace Bell Facebook page(external link).

A city of peace

Christchurch's history and connection to the peace movement was instrumental in the city being named New Zealand's first 'Peace City' in 2002. Multiple organisations actively protested and objected to war throughout the 20th century in Christchurch and later, in 1982, the city would be the first to declare itself nuclear free in New Zealand.