The LoveWalks Aotearoa

A guest post from Carlos Miguel Martinez:

LoveWalks Aotearoa (also known as LoveWalks New Zealand)  is a globally and locally relevant initiative to gift the world a contribution to an antidote to the virus of hate, division and polarization in society. It seeks to put a dent in the virus of hate. Fostering a spirit of everyone, from everywhere, all at once – belonging, we all walk together.

It brings together people from around the world, people with identities and places of conflict and division. It puts them in the beauty of New Zealand’s nature, and across 7 weeks in the outdoors collectively they show the world positive stories of how we can all walk together as one. This is just a headline soundbite; It’s much more than this.

We all share a human problem. We are living is an increasingly polarised, divided society with the “virus of hate” in widespread circulation – in classrooms, courtyards, campuses in communities, countries on every continent.

The “virus of hate” shows up in a variety of forms – anti-Asian, antisemitism, anti-Christian, xenophobia, islamophobia, homophobia, anti-them, anti-you. It shows up in vitriolic language on social media, incivility, disrespect, youth cyberbullying. Hate is being normalised. And it’s not ok. It erodes trust and cohesion necessary for collaboration, problem solving and progress. At its extreme, hate goes beyond words and shows up as physical violence. Hate undermines and affects the prosperity and wellbeing of people. It damages the spirit; it dampens human potential.

And many people are desperately hungry to see a different story than the continual daily stories of human suffering, division, conflict and hate. There is a global audience with an appetite to see and feel the story of the LoveWalks New Zealand.

LoveWalks Aotearoa at its heart is a very simple idea:

  • We assemble a small group of 12 people from many of the world’s conflicts and conflicting identities – Israeli, Palestinian, Jewish, Indian, Pakistani, Russian, Ukrainian, American, Chinese and much more. People whose cultural backgrounds are Jewish, Sunni Muslim, Shia Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Protestant, Catholic, Agnostic. However it is completely unrelated to religion. Equally split half and half – female and male. People from every continent. Some amazing people with incredible stories and life experiences want to take part, including Nobel Peace prize nominees.
  • The participant lineup is deliberate. When the world might think this group represents conflict, division and hate, we showcase the common humanity that love walks, together as one. People sharing and listening to each other’s stories, listening for understanding and connection, exploring love and appreciation for each other, for themselves, of themselves. Participants connecting to oneself, and to each other.
  • It includes a Youth Ambassador Programme involving a microcosm of NZ youth. A life experience, developing values and capabilities of youth to be role models to other youth. Promoting less hate, less bullying and vitriol in social media, more belonging, more respect and asking the best of yourself.
  • It involves a connection to the land, the people and to Maoritanga.
  • Each week it invites different New Zealanders to join. Sharing stories and experiences around the campsite. And each week finishes with a music and meal celebration sharing food – we all eat at the table of humanity.
  • Staged in New Zealand – perhaps the ideal country to host this – safe, beautiful, neutral, attractive, located on the edge. New Zealand – a place that welcomes each new day, first.

Seven weeks of “walking” New Zealand – the beauty and wonder that is New Zealand, top to bottom – including a rich variety of places, people, experiences, – mostly hours on foot but also including sea, islands, mountains, volcanoes (extinct ones!) beaches, rivers, bush, cities, helicopters, boats, yachts, train, tents, huts, canoes. Some people refer to it as the ultimate experience of New Zealand.

It’s staged with stunningly beautiful locations – the time and place for stories, moments, and experiences. Great for content. Shares and Likes.

The participants, together, sharing the same path, the same ground, sharing the same sky, “walk” New Zealand. Aotearoa, a place to search, discover, and find connection and love – for others, for nature, for themselves.

And from this simple idea we bring out powerful symbolic moving stories and content that showcase that we all walk together as one. Everyone, from everywhere belongs. The LoveWalks New Zealand.

The LoveWalks Aotearoa:

  • Starting in New Zealand with the intention of being a blueprint, a pilot for a subsequent global initiative.
  • Is a positive story of hope, possibility, connection, love. It speaks to people around the world.

More details on who and when; and public launch of the website to come.

Where will your love walk today?

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Kevin Roberts

Kevin Roberts is founder of Red Rose Consulting; business leader and educator; author and speaker; adviser on marketing, creative thinking and leadership.


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