A relay intended to spread peace across the world touched down in Tauranga today as part of its quest to run the length of New Zealand.
The Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run, in its 32nd year, stopped at five Tauranga schools, as part of its journey.
A team of 13 runners visited Tauranga Intermediate School, Bellevue Montessori School, Otumoetai Primary School, Pillans Point Primary and Greerton Village School.
The group started at Cape Reinga and will run down to Bluff, carrying a torch touched by Nelson Mandela, Muhammad Ali and Richie McCaw.
Around 700 excited students from Tauranga Intermediate School gathered in the school hall this morning to welcome the runners. The group of students had earlier joined the peace runners for a lap around the school grounds.
The visiting athletes came from around the world, including Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, South Africa and the United States. They were united by their love of running and mission for world peace.
The visitors played games, sang songs and spoke about "peaceful behaviour" and mindfulness.
Peace runner Preetidutta Thorpe said running through New Zealand was beautiful.
Thorpe said children in every country had a different quality about them. She found Kiwi kids were "very enthusiastic" and had a "sweetness" about them.
She said the group was learning about Māori culture on their trip here, which was a highlight.
The runners encouraged students to be kind and generous to one another, adding that small actions added up to big outcomes.
The school sang a song for the visitors in return and thanked them for their visit.
After the assembly had drawn to a close, the runners lit up the torch and children had the opportunity to touch it.
Tauranga Intermediate School student Ella Anderson, 11, joined the group for a run around the school grounds before the assembly.
She was proud to be a part of the running group and said it was "pretty cool".
Tauranga Intermediate School deputy principal Cameron Mitchell said the visitors' message that inner peace paved the way for world peace reflected the school curriculum.
"It fits in with our wellbeing and mindfulness approach."
It was the second time the runners had visited the school in a decade.
"It's great for students to see people from around the world here," he said.