Around 200 Catholic students have made a pilgrimage along Rotorua's Green Corridor, raising awareness of social issues in Cambodia.

The walk was completed yesterday by students from John Paul College, St Mary's Catholic Primary School, St Michael's Catholic Primary School, St John's College Hamilton, Sacred Heart Girls' College Hamilton, Marian Catholic Primary School and St Mary's Catholic School Putaruru.

The event was one of several run across the country to launch the annual Caritas Challenge.

It aims to raise awareness about social justice issues in the world and helps young people understand aspects of what people living with poverty and injustice experience on a daily basis by taking on the challenges.


Each year the Caritas Challenge focuses on a specific country in which Caritas is delivering a development programme and this year Cambodia is being featured.

Caritas' work in the country is focussed on helping indigenous people improve their farming techniques and adapt their crops to a changing climate, providing access to clean water and land rights.

Students attended mass at St Michael's Church before making the 3.7km pilgrimage, finishing at Kuirau Park.

John Paul College assistant director of religious studies Veronica Aislabie said students were excited to take part in the event.

"Many students had a lot to do with the planning of the event and have been enthused about the whole cause. Students have been fundraising in the lead up to the event and have been sponsoring each other."

Year 12 John Paul College students Sachi Wijeyekoon, 16, and Maisie Cossar, 16, said they liked having the opportunity to help out.

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"It's so sad when you hear about some of the social injustices going on around the world - it really makes you realise how privileged we are in New Zealand," Sachi said.

"There were so many students keen to help out and take part. It has been fun getting involved and meeting students from other schools with the same goal," Maisie said.

Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand social justice education adviser Gemma Sinnott said the challenge was about raising awareness and getting students to think about their roles as global citizens.