I walked in the March for Life on Saturday, 7th December.
What a sight to see an estimated 2,400 enthusiastic pro-lifers, of all ages and ethnicities entering Parliament grounds to the ringing call of the karanga.
The line of marchers stretched from Parliament all the way along Lambton Quay, led by the massed choir of the Mother of Divine Mercy Pasifika group from Auckland. There were two young bagpipers in there as well.
The numbers tell the story: 600 for the first March for Life in 2017, 1200 in 2018 and over 2,400 this year. The organisers expect to double the turnout in 2020. People came from all over the country, even from Kaitaia and Whangarei.
The weather forecast looked grim, heavy rain, even thunderstorms. Wellington for days had been in the grip of fierce Northerly winds. Someone told me that groups of Christians were praying and fasting that the thunderstorms would hold off for the Saturday afternoon. They did, but the wind down the canyon of Lambton Quay made holding banners and posters a challenge.
Marchers started assembling in the Civic Square from noon. Pro-life stalls and a sausage sizzle were in one corner and the growing throng was entertained by the young singers and dancers from the Mother of Divine Mercy Refuge group, all wearing their March for Life T shirts.
As the start time of 2pm drew closer, AOG Pastor Gina Sunderland gave instructions, the crowd marshals took their places and then we were off moving down the left-hand side of Lambton Quay. The expected opposition from abortion-rights supporters failed to materialise and within 40 minutes, the first marchers were entering Parliament grounds for the Powhiri.
A large stage with video and sound systems had been erected, so that people at the edge of the big crowd filling the grounds could easily see the speakers. MC Stacy Raika, wearing a full facial moko, welcomed the crowd. He is the pastor of the Elim church in Porirua.
The speeches were short and to the point. Simon O’Connor pointed to Parliament and said that currently “It is a House of Death, but you are bringing the Winds of Change.” MP Agnes Loheni sent her apologies as she was on business in Samoa. Paulo Garcia thanked the marchers for sharing their love for pregnant mothers and their unborn children and promised that he would never stop fighting abortion in Parliament.
Alfred Ngaro spoke with intense passion, pleading with the Marchers not to be swayed by the emotion of the day, but to continue fighting abortion with steady determination. “If we don’t speak out, another 500,000 unborn children will die.”
“Tell your neighbours, families and friends that we love and care for both mothers and their children.”
Then Joanna told the Marchers about her teenage pregnancy and how she resisted medical advice to have an abortion. She now has a seven-year old daughter, went to university and combines a business career with solo motherhood.
Naomi told her abortion story and how she was misled by the counsellor.
“What she didn’t tell me was how I would feel suicidal, suffer panic attacks, trapped in deep shame; the pain of my abortion burning in my soul.”
Naomi eventually found her way to post-abortion counselling and healing. She was able to use her experience to persuade other women to continue their pregnancies. Now she is “a voice for the voiceless”, happily married with four biological children and one fostered.
A special moment for the crowd was when two pregnant woman came up on the stage and a midwife ran a portable foetal doppler across their stomachs. The sound of both of their baby’s pounding heartbeats echoed through the speakers across Parliament’s grounds.
Then the National Anthem “God Defend New Zealand” was sung, first in Maori and then in English, with great power and feeling.
The March for Life 2019 was a tribute to the work of the organising committee.
Bring on 2020.
There is extensive coverage of the March for Life and the speeches on Voice for Life Facebook.