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During the aftermath of World War Two Chiyoji Nakagawa, a former Mayor of Uwajima in Shikoku presented a token of peace to the United Nations. It is a large bell, similar to those housed in larger Buddhist temples throughout Japan. To manufacture the bell, Mr Nakagawa, working on his own, canvassed 65 member countries of the (then) new United Nations asking for donations of coins to melt down and be used as material. His mission was to remind the world of the importance of peace and to say that no nation should experience an atomic bomb attack as his country’s cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, witnessed in August 1945.

On 8 June 1954, the completed bell was presented to the United Nations as a symbol of everlasting world peace. Today, the World Peace Bell is located in the inner court of the United Nations headquarters in New York. It is supported on soil received from Hiroshima and Nagasaki. There, the story might have ended but in 1982 a World Peace Bell Association was formed with co-operation from ambassadors representing 128 nations. The Association promotes a world free from the evils of nuclear war and presents replica World Peace Bells to various nations.


New Zealand World Peace Bell Plaque
New Zealand World Peace Bell Plaque


At present, there are 21 World Peace Bells in 17 countries. Coins to manufacture the bells have been donated by 103 United Nations member states, including New Zealand. The nearest World Peace Bell to New Zealand was presented to Cowra, Australia, in 1990. This bell symbolizes peace initiatives and friendships made between the people of Cowra and Japan following the tragic Japanese breakout from Cowra’s World War Two prison camp on 5th August 1944.


New Zealand


The New Zealand World Peace Bell stands at one metre high, 609 mm wide, and weighs a hefty 365 kg. It is the largest display bell in New Zealand. The World Peace Bell is housed in a pavilion located in the Christchurch Botanic Gardens. It has become the focal point of a specially developed Peace Walk around central Christchurch.

New Zealand World Peace Bell Pavilion
New Zealand World Peace Bell Pavilion
The Bell’s unveiling was held on 3rd October 2006 and officiated by then-Mayor Garry Moore and the World Peace Bell Association’s Tokyo representative, Keizo Ohashi. Christchurch resident Roy Sinclair was the initial inspiration behind the idea of the city receiving a World Peace Bell. The City Council supported his idea as part of its declaration as a Peace City in 2002. Roy signed an agreement on behalf of the New Zealand Chapter Committee with the World Peace Bell Association President in Tokyo in 2004 and worked closely with the City Council to facilitate its transit and eventual placement in Christchurch’s Botanic Gardens. The transportation of the World Peace Bell and construction of the site was made possible by financial and logistical support from various groups including the Linwood-Woolston Rotary Club, the Canterbury Foundation, Canterbury Community Trust, Southern Trust, Peace and Disarmament Education Trust, Peace Boat, CourierPost, OK Gift Shop, Christchurch City Council, the Disarmament and Security Centre, and the World Peace Bell Association’s New Zealand Chapter Committee members.