Keeping the peace

How integral is the pursuit of peace to the New Zealand psyche? Victoria University of Wellington academics Geoffrey Troughton and Philip Fountain explore how New Zealanders have been inspired by visions for peace in their new book, Pursuing Peace in Godzone: Christianity and the Peace Tradition in New Zealand.

Pursing Peace in Godzone cover

Focusing on diverse Christian communities, it examines some of the ways that peace has influenced their practices, lifestyles, and politics from World War II to the present—the period in which New Zealand’s peaceable image and reputation as ‘God’s own country’ grew and flourished.

The book also seeks to answer the question asked by Nicky Hager, author of Dirty Politics and Hit and Run—“How did New Zealand become a country where most people are sceptical of militarism, prefer peacekeeping to joining foreign wars and were strongly opposed to joining the 2003 invasion of Iraq?” As Hager goes on to say, “An important part of the answer is the work of the Christian peace campaigners who are the subject (and in some cases the authors) of this well-written and engaging book.”

New Zealand Christians, and others, have worked for peace in many different ways, from attention-grabbing protests against nuclear weapons, apartheid, and war to quieter, but no less important, efforts to improve relationships within their churches and communities, and with the natural environment. Taken together, their stories reveal a multifaceted but deeply influential thread of Christian peace-making within New Zealand culture. These stories are by turns challenging and inspiring, poignant and amusing, and they continue to reverberate today in a world where peace remains elusive for many.