A traditional shofar will be used to herald Speakers' Corner in Kapiti
The Kapiti Coast's well-known councillor, K Gurunathan, – 'Guru' to his friends and enemies – says he'll be blowing his own Jewish shofar (trumpet) to re-open Speakers' Corner in the Kapiti Civic Centre this coming Saturday (6th April 2013).
Guru says he's been practising for weeks for the official re-launching of the corner – Paepae Kai Korero -- on Saturday, April 6, at 12 noon.
The shofar (שופר), usually made from a ram's horn, is traditionally blown on Rosh HaShanah, the Jewish New Year.
It was used to announce the start of holidays and in processions. And in the Book of Joshua, shofarot (plural of shofar) were used as part of the battle plan to capture Jericho:
In Kāpiti, the Friends of Free Speech say Guru's shofar blowing will announce a special ceremony including Maori elements at the site just west of the new KCDC building.
And Guru adds: "This will herald a new democratic era on the Coast, where those formerly 'unheard'...or even ignored...will have a chance to stake their claim on the democratic space.
In 2002, Guru was the initiator of the Speakers Corner, when he was a local journalist and it's intended that by having him blow the shofar will be a link with the Kapiti Speakers' Corner origin.
'A safety valve'
"It will be a safety valve for local democracy."
Mayor Jenny Rowan will give the first 'free speech' from the new Speakers' Corner-- and other key speakers will include Maori leaders and the well-known local poet Gill Ward.
Speakers' Corner will be dedicated to the 'democratic right of free and unfettered speech – with an absolute minimum of rules and regulations,' says the chair of Friends of Free Speech, Ron Wilkinson.
There will be just two 'bookable' spaces – a half-hour at noon on Wednesdays, and another half hour at noon on Saturdays.
Respect other people's opinions
A brief 'code of conduct' for speakers says:
'Speakers' Corner is your platform. You can use it express any idea, opinion or viewpoint as long as it is lawful.
"Our council, which is the landowner, says amplifiers and loudspeakers should not be used.
'The area is intended for citizens, but not for anyone wanting to use it for commercial gain.'
The code also suggests that speakers:
Avoid offensive language
Be courteous to other speakers and listeners
Limit your time to a maximum of 15 minutes
The Friends of Free Speech, who are friendly 'guardians' of the unique new community asset hope to unveil a timber stump on the site, either at the opening or soon after.
The stump will provide a handy prop for speakers. It will also have a plaque attached, setting out the ideals for this new democratic initiative on the Coast.
Another member of the Friends' group, Alan Tristram, says that, as far as he is aware, the Kapiti Speakers' Corner will be one of the very few areas in the country set up on a public space, and approved by the local authority, as a venue for free speech at all times.