New Zealand-based peacebuilder Wayne Marriott has been recognized as the Resolution Institute Michael Klug Awardee for 2019. He is a 2018 graduate of Eastern Mennonite University’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding.
Marriott was specifically noted for his support to the community after the Christchurch mosque shootings earlier this year.
The Michael Klug Award was established in 2009 to honor “any person or persons who have contributed to the peaceful resolution of conflict in the best interests of the community,” according to their website. The Resolution Institute is a network of “mediators, arbitrators, expert determiners, adjudicators, restorative justice practitioners and other dispute resolution professionals” across New Zealand and Australia, with a main headquarters in Wellington, New Zealand.
Marriott, who provides private conflict coaching, mediation, and other reconciliation services from his practice, Fleetwood Peacebuilders, in Christchurch, said he was humbled by the award.
“This type of recognition from my peers tells me we are not alone in our endeavour,” Marriott said. “Peacebuilding can be a lonely existence, so right now I’m feeling connected to my colleagues. It has created a momentum of camaraderie that I’d like to maintain.”
Marriott has worked in the field of conflict resolution and mediation for 19 years. He pursued graduate studies at EMU “to extend my capability in the field and add to my exposure to other cultures and worldviews,” he said. “EMU offered a tremendous opportunity to learn with a multi-national and multi-faith cohort while learning from some of the best peacebuilders in the world.”
The theories and practices he learned in his studies at EMU helped to guide his response to the March 15, 2019, Christchurch shootings, he said.
A lone gunman killed 51 people were killed and injured 49, including one of Marriott’s acquaintances.
Marriott was returning to his office after an appointment when his son, a police officer, called to say he was responding to the shooting.
“I realised the apparent danger that my son was about to experience. I began to take the event very personally,” Marriott said.
After the gunman was arrested that day, Marriott began to formulate how to respond constructively to the tragedy. To that end, he reached out to those he knew personally who had been injured or affected by the attacks, volunteered his services to advocacy and activist groups, and got involved with a refugee and immigrant support network. He also helped organize a visit with two Kenyan peace scholars, who met with the local branch of the international peace agency Initiatives of Change.
After being contacted by a Muslim lawyer, Marriott got connected with the advocacy group Just Community, and has participated in “the beginning of lengthy and challenging conversations with various arms of government,” including the Minister of Ethnic Affairs.
Marriott also brought a little piece of Harrisonburg to Christchurch – by distributing the Welcome Your Neighbor signs, which say in English, Arabic, Maori, Fijian, Samoan and Spanish: No matter where you’re from, we’re glad you’re our neighbor.
Marriott said that peacebuilding and support efforts after a traumatic event are necessary long after much of the broader community has forgotten the incident.
“I continue to be active in building peace in my community following the attacks. My stance is to remain independent of the formal structures, being available to the community and agencies as a consultant – especially within the context of long-term recovery strategies,” he said.