16 Jun 2016

Peace hikoi heads to Okato

5:33 am on 16 June 2016

A Taranaki peace hikoi will wind its way along State Highway 45 to Okato today.

A reaction to the negative response to New Plymouth mayor Andrew Judd's support for Māori representation on the New Plymouth District Council, more than 400 people joined the hikoi when it began in the city yesterday morning.

Mayor Andrew Judd said he was overjoyed at the support his Peace Walk initiative had received.

Mr Judd was spat at and abused in front of his children for championing the introduction of a Māori ward, which was eventually thrown out in a citizens-initiated referendum.

Numbers dropped off as the hikoi headed onto the highway on its way to Oakura, where a meeting was held to discuss ways to improve race relations in New Zealand.

New Plymouth man Vivian Hutchinson was of those who will help facilitate the community forums that will take place each evening as the hikoi concludes for the day.

He was an influential figure in the 1975 land march led by Dame Whina Cooper.

Mr Hutchinson said trying to get fairer representation for Māori and the Māori community on local government affairs was something that should happen all around the country in 2016.

A similar meeting will be held in Okato this evening before the hikoi heads onto Parihaka tomorrow afternoon.

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