by MAYA BERNARDO and PETER GRACE
Catholic couple Kevin and Barbara McBride are local heroes.

At the awards evening, from left: Kevin and Barbara McBride’s daughter, Fiona, Barbara McBride’s friend, Pauline, Kevin and Barbara, Maya Bernardo, Peace Place manager Kim Dunlop and Judith Crimmins.
At the awards evening, from left: Kevin and Barbara McBride’s daughter, Fiona, Barbara McBride’s friend,
Pauline, Kevin and Barbara, Maya Bernardo, Peace Place manager Kim Dunlop and Judith Crimmins.

On December 2 at the Ellerslie Events Centre, the McBrides were awarded a Local Hero of the Year award by Kiwibank for their lifelong work as advocates for peace.
They were joined by their daughter Fiona, who flew in from Wellington.
Mr McBride later told NZ Catholic they were a bit embarrassed and very surprised to win the award.
They don’t look for those sorts of things, he said. But apparently some friends and families of Pax Christi had
put the nomination in.
“The thing that made it acceptable,” he said, “was that Barbara was included.” A number of speakers rightly said that women often sat at home looking after the families, and that commitment could be overlooked.
The nomination said that Mr and Mrs McBride had brought the New Zealand voice to many international peace conferences and had lobbied actively for Maori interests.
They had often made submissions to government, advocating for New Zealand to promote peaceful principles for international relations, as well as highlighting injustice within New Zealand.
They had worked for better housing and for marginalised communities. Mrs McBride had gathered baby clothes for Pregnancy Help and had served on its executive board.
Mr McBride said they had been doing that work very much together. “Recently Palestine, previously a couple of years ago in Cairo … so we have shared those sorts of experiences going into places of conflict and met the men and women involved, so, in that respect, Barbara has been very much a part of it; and also it got some recognition for
some of the groups we are involved with.”
In some ways they were accepting it on behalf of those people other than themselves; people like Pax Christi, Asia Pacific Human Rights Coalition, and Peace Movement Aotearoa.
During the awards evening, Mr McBride said, he thought many of the other groups being honoured were quite local. “And I thought, ‘Where again do we fit into this?’
“On the other hand, I would say one of our main things is to raise the awareness of New Zealanders as to what we are involved in.” For example, when the New Zealand Government sends soldiers into Iraq-Syria to train military personnel.
“So we feel, as Pax Christi, there are other ways to do that.”
Two or three years ago they were in West Papua, which is suffering deforestation, climate change and the expansion of palm oil plantations. Palm oil is used in the New Zealand dairy industry.
“The whole thing gives us food for thought,” Mr McBride said, “but we are local, we trying to have an influence on New Zealand.”
Although they have retired from the daily commute, they are still involved and members of the working group of Peace Movement Aotearoa, coordinators of Pax Christi New Zealand and still engaged in the international Pax Christi movement.
“It keeps me getting up in the morning,” Mr McBride said.

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