Tricia Hague-Barrett: Looking Back 31 Years Ago

Timaru, New Zealand

Timaru, New Zealand 1986

Looking back to 31 years ago when I lived in Timaru, and while searching through my boxes of papers and old articles and other worldly things that I have hoarded over the years, I found a Timaru Bahá’í newsletter (I was the editor at that time) dated October 1986. and our small Bahá’í community organized and co-sponsored a major conference on Peace. It might not seem very major by today’s standards but it was a mighty effort on the part of our community. It is wonderful to read back about our community life in those days, and this event surely pulled us all together.


Let me give an idea of the grand event that we co-sponsored. Prior to the event beginning, there were forty ads on radio and these were paid for by sponsors – mainly firms and other community organisations. In addition, they financed a three-quarter page slot in the Timaru Herald with supportive advertisements.  There was a  cake stall held at Northtown Mall, with peace related posters, and a Peace Seminar Stall at Stafford Mall.  Extensive advertising in the Timaru Herald incorporated local Bahá’í artist, Dave Stewart’s, exciting and inventive “Peace It Together” logo. Furthermore, there were many exhaustive meetings by the steering committee, enthusiastic support from the Tangata Whenua, organised by a Kaumatua, Mr. Bruce Toa, and catering by Maatua Whangai along with tireless assistance from another local supporter, Mr Bryan Hannam, who looked after the technical and stage management side of things.  There were heaps of encouragement and support from speakers and other Baha’i communities; these are just some of the factors and people that made the building up to the seminar itself an exciting one. Finally, there was a 15-minute Radio Caroline (named after Caroline Bay) interview with local Bahá’í’s, Danny Gresham and Tony Howie, on the Friday before the main event.  




On the day of the event, the hall was decorated by 80 “peace” posters produced by the children of two local primary schools.  Other local peace groups created and exhibited displays related to peace issues. The Bahá’í display looked particularly attractive and owed much to the loan of materials donated by the Local Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Christchurch on behalf of it’s community.




The seminar was officially opened by Mr. Bruce Toa and members of the Tangata Whenua. The highlight of this was the presentation of three white feathers as a symbol of peace, to Mrs. Gae Cherry who had kindly agreed to speak in place of Sonia Davies – whose hectic round of conferences and meetings had finally caught up with her.


Plea for Peace


Bahá’ís Huda Melson and Afsaneh Howie, from Iraq and Iran, respectively, made a moving plea for peace between their countries by each chanting a prayer in their respective languages and then joining together for the song of the Martyrs.  It was sensational and brought tears to people’s eyes because these two countries were against each other back then.  




Maatua Whangai provided lunch and afternoon “Devonshire” tea with proceeds going towards their Marae fund.  A potluck dinner was held in the evening; the efforts of Maatua Whangai were very much appreciated, especially by our stomachs.



140 attended the regional peace seminar. The sessions were inspiring.


Dr. Neil Cherry (Left)

Dr. Neil Cherry spoke of the world situation at that time, but stressed that this was only a negative picture if we gave up. He maintained that there is enough food in the world to feed everyone with 300 calories a day in grain alone. 

Additional Information: 
Neil James Cherry (29 September 1946 – 24 May 2003) was a New Zealand environmental scientist.)Peace Award
On 3 December 2002 Neil was one of the recipients of the first eight Christchurch City Peace Awards given to local groups and individuals.


Peace Award Citation:
Dr. Neil James Cherry, ONZM (Officers of the New Zealand Order of Merit)
“Neil Cherry has been a tireless worker for peace and disarmament research and education for many years. In 1985 he founded the Canterbury Branch of Scientists Against Nuclear Arms and convened the group until 1996. He was an active member of the US-based Union of Concerned Scientists and ‘Beyond War’, the Aotearoa/New Zealand Peace Foundation, Students and Teachers Educating for Peace and the Riccarton Peace Group. He was a member of the local committees of the 1986 United Nations International Year of Peace and served as the scientific member of the Public Advisory Committee on Disarmament and Arms Control from 1989-1991. He was awarded the 1990 Commemorative Medal by the government for services to peace and disarmament research and education. He has also published articles about the dangers of nuclear power and nuclear winter, and the need for nuclear disarmament. (


Dr. Ali Danesh, Psychiatrist

Dr Ali Danesh, member of the New Zealand Bahá’í community, then destroyed racism as a valid concept. It was now regarded as an anti-social problem and a product of man’s lower nature. He said there were 4 steps by which the higher or spiritual nature could dominate, tolerance, equality, unity, and altruism (the last being an unattainable idea to which we were always striving). His son, John Danesh, reminded the session that youth could achieve great things by helping to break down meaningless traditions that cause division. The disease of the world was disunity.  For more information about this speaker: –


Gae Cherry

Gae Cherry’s address concerned the conflict between sexes which she said was rooted in the system. Women wished to work with men, not for them, but their talents and needs had been ignored. The assumption that any relationship involved one member being up and the other down had to be dissolved and parity achieved. Through peer relationships between the sexes, she felt that peace could come.

Reminder: Unity Cafe Interfaith Devotional “Learning to Love” on Zoom

Hi friends,
Reminder that our first Unity Café Interfaith Devotionals will begin in 30 minutes,
11am Pacific Time

Unity Café Interfaith Devotionals


The Unity Café is a new online Interfaith meet up, sponsored and produced by All Things Baha’i, for people who would like to reflect, inspire and share their ideas on themes and common threads that tie us all together. We present an organized devotional followed by reflection on quotations from the different faiths, philosophers, authors, leaders and indigenous cultures from all over the world. 


An important component of the reflection is how we can use the inspiration gained at the meet up to create change in our own lives and to serve others in our neighborhoods and communities.


The theme of our very first devotional will be on “Learning to Love“. Due to this being our first program, we will not follow with a reflections portion. Instead we will invite you to provide us your thoughts about the program and how frequently you would like to see these offered. 


To help you become familiar with the video, audio host, “Zoom”, I have included the following link which provides a brief overview of what you will need, what to expect when you first enter, and basic tutorials on how to use Zoom. Unity Cafe Zoom Overview & Tutorial

Date: Monday, 26 March 2018 (Tuesday in some locations)
Time: 11:00am Pacific Time (US and Canada)
Theme: Learning to Love
Opening Prayer: An Arabic prayer for Assistance with Tests, revealed by the Báb and chanted by Ellie Mzehem. A provisional translation into English has been prepared by Diaa Mzehem for your convenience during this gathering and should not be shared or distributed. 
Quest Readers: Tricia Hague-Barrett, Ellie Mzehem and Lynette Slaman-Garcia
Program Duration: Approximately 30 minutes
Go Here To Join Devotion:

‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Look at the heart

Juliet Thompson has given us a sweet picture of the Master in ‘Akka: ‘He had sent for us that afternoon to meet Mr. Sprague and the Persian believers and, not being ready, I put on a dress I could slip into easily. As I passed the Master standing in His door: ‘I am afraid I am not dressed well enough,’ I said. He touched my arm, smiling with the utmost sweetness. ‘The Persian believers do not look at the dress, My child. They look at the heart.’
(Thompson, Diary, p. 85)

Tricia Hague-Barrett: INQUISITIVE INQUIRY of the adult kind

Have you ever been asked a serious question by a 5-year-old before? I have….


I had the most inquisitive daughter. When she had been at school for only two days, she said to me on the way home from school, “Mum, I have something serious to ask you,” and I tried to think what kind of ‘very serious question’ it could be for a five year old.  


After I managed to get through the lights, I asked her what it was she wanted to know and if it could wait until we got home.

“Oh no,” she said, “I want to know right now!”

I allowed her to ask her question.

“Mum, you won’t laugh at me will you?”

“No dear.” I replied.

“Well mum, what’s abortion?”

I nearly choked on my false teeth. ‘And she wants an answer right now?’ I thought.

As we pulled into our driveway, I asked her for a couple of days to think about the subject, for it was such a serious one that if I told her wrongly, it would affect her for the rest of her life. I told her that I would give it a great deal of thought, and I would explain things in the best way I know how.

This was a doozy, and I wanted to be sure that she really wanted to know about it, and if in a couple of days she didn’t remember that she had asked, I could put aside any answer I might have by then and wait until she asked again.

That night I wrote a fictional story and printed off a copy for me to read to her.  It was probably just as well, for on the way home from school two days later, she asked again.

I told her I had an answer for her, but we would have to wait till we got home for me to tell her. It was a story of life within the womb told by the baby. It was a story of the journey from the world of the fallopian, to the world of the womb and into this world.

When we arrived home, we settled down in the lounge and I read the story to her. She thought it was a lovely story, but because it didn’t seem to answer her question, she asked why I had not answered her question in the story. The word abortion was not in there.

“I have answered your question dear,” was my reply, “let me show you.”

Of the sixteen pages it took to write the story, I tore up the last 13 pages.

She understood immediately, and cried with deep emotion.


“No Revelation from God has ever taught reincarnation; this is a man-made conception.  The soul of man comes into being at conception.” (From a letter on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, April 1, 1946: Lights of Guidance, p. 413.)

“Evolution in the life of the individual starts with the formation of the human embryo and passes through various stages, and even continues after death in another form.  The human spirit is capable of infinite development. . . He does not pre-exist in any form before coming into this world.” From a letter on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, Nov 26 1939: Lights of Guidance, p. 413.)  

“Out of the wastes of nothingness, with the clay of My command I made thee to appear, and have ordained for thy training every atom in existence and the essence of all created things.  Thus, ere thou didst issue from thy mother’s womb, I destined for thee two founts of gleaming milk, eyes to watch over thee, and hearts to love thee.” (Bahá’u’lláh, Hidden Words, Persian)


“O God! Guide me, protect me, make of me a shining lamp and a brilliant star.  Thou art the Mighty and the Powerful.” – `Abdu’l-Bahá


I learned a big lesson that day too.


© copyright 1985

‘Abdu’l-Baha: Make Others Happy – 19 Day Feast

“The Bridge Across Market Street From Broad Street Station” Philadelphia by Elizabeth Robins Pennell

In Philadelphia, Abdu’l-Baha spoke to the friends about the Nineteen-Day Feast, which lies at the foundation of Baha’i spiritual and community life and which is held at the start of each Baha’i month. He stressed the importance of this occasion: ‘Each one of you must think how to make happy and pleased the other members of your Assembly, and each one must consider all those who are present as better and greater than himself, and each one must consider himself less than the rest. Know their station as high, and think of your own station as low. Should you act and live according to these behests, know verily, of a certainty, that that Feast is the Heavenly Food. That Supper is the “Lord’s Supper”! I am the Servant of that gathering.’
(Star of the West, vol. IV, p. 120)

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