‘The end of an era’

Amnesty International’s tauranga branch co-leader Dolores Flynn-Edge says her group hopes to continue raising awareness for human rights through online petitions and campaigning.

Tauranga Moana Amnesty International is disbanding, after forming in the 1980s – more than 40 years ago.

Last week’s presentation of the Robert Anderson Memorial Award to the Ware family marked their last gathering.

Co-leader Dolores Flynn-Edge says that the group is disbanding as they are now too old to keep up with their regular campaigning.

“We are all approaching our 80s and 90s now. Though we are passing on the torch to young organisations, who are contributing to human rights activism in New Zealand,” says Dolores.

She suggests although it is the end of an era, it is also the birth of a new one.

“The new era is being born through our other co-leader, Gary Ware, who passed away in 2018.”

“Gary’s family has agreed to donate $4000 to a youth or youth group who has followed through on one of their human rights actions every year.

“Our group is at the end of its time, but young people are definitely still going. We are happy to be passing on the torch.”

Dolores also says that her group is hoping to continue raising awareness for human rights through online petitions and campaigning.

“It’s the way of the world now, there’s lots of online campaigns for us to get invovled in.”

Joining Tauranga’s Amnesty International around 1987, Dolores’ interest came as a result of her son mentioning the organisation to her.

“I also saw that a local paper was doing some letter writing through Amnesty International; I was new to the country after moving from England and wanted to join something.”

Shortly after Dolores became co-leader alongside the late Gary Ware, who’s family have been praised for their significant contribution to human rights on an international level.

“Gary had the connections and I had the ideas. Gary knew how to make things happen.”

One of Dolores’ favourite memories during her time at Amnesty International was during a campaign for human rights in China during an exchange with Tauranga’s sister city Yantai in 2007.

“We wanted to show that in New Zealand you can challenge what is happening through protesting. You won’t be harmed and people can voice their concerns.

“During this campaign, people were sent from Wellington at the Chinese Embassy to stop us from raising awareness.

“I think it is a good reminder to people, some human rights issues have been going on a long time; and we are still seeing problems with China today.”

Recalling other memories, Dolores also adds that she enjoyed helping children and a schoolteacher write a song about the Iraq war. “It was amazing to see the passion in the kids. They were about Year 4 at school.”

“We used the song at our Jazz festivals at the time. It was a great as an adult being able to help children bring their vision to life.”


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