The recipient of an "alternative Nobel Prize" says his solving of kindergarten squabbles as a teacher prepared him for a life in international peace relations.

Tauranga-born Alyn Ware was one of four winners of The Right Livelihood Award 2009, worth €50,000 ($100,000).

The awards were founded by Swedish-German philanthropist Jakob von Uexkull in 1980 to recognise deeds he felt were being ignored by the Nobel Prizes.

Mr Ware told the Herald from New York that his quiet, considerate approach as a teacher, and later as an activist, had allowed him to be successful in negotiating peace deals.

"Some people are loud, shout-in-the-street, ban the bomb types. I'm the softly-softly type of person. When I'm with children, I try and sit down with them and not lecture them. The same applies for politicians and congressman," he said.

The spark for his shift from primary teacher to peace campaigner was learning about the impact of nuclear testing in the Pacific on children.

"I thought, how can I be helping children in one area, in learning, when they could be affected in others - in radiation, in violence. And that was testing during peaceful times, so what if a bomb was used during wartime? I felt I had to commit to paving a future for our children."

Mr Ware studied at Otumoetai College and graduated from the University of Waikato in 1984 with a Bachelor of Education and Diploma in Kindergarten Teaching.

He draws a direct line between peaceful resolution in the classroom or in the family and international peace and disarmament work.

"The principles of peace are the same whether it be in school, at home, in the community or internationally," he said.

"These are primarily about how to solve our conflicts in win/win ways, in ways that meet all peoples' needs. People need to be able to resolve a problem, say, between their brother and sister before they can grasp ideas of peace between ... India and Pakistan."

Mr Ware has recently drafted a model treaty for the United Nations on the abolition of nuclear weapons, which is being circulated by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

He is hoping the inspiration of this year's Nobel Peace Prize winner will make the treaty a reality.

"[Barrack] Obama has given the vision for nuclear weapons-free world oomph and hope. It is possible ... quicker than we imagined. In New Zealand, we never imagined we would become nuclear-free so quickly. We now have momentum and political will to do this."

Mr Ware is director of the Peace Foundation Wellington Office, global co-ordinator of the Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament network and director of Aotearoa Lawyers for Peace.

Awards judges said Mr Ware, 47, was recognised "for his effective and creative advocacy and initiatives over two decades to further peace education and to rid the world of nuclear weapons."

He is the second New Zealander to receive the award after the late David Lange, who received an honorary prize in 2003.

Other recipients of this year's award were Catherine Hamlin, an Australian-born doctor who founded a hospital in Ethiopia for women damaged by childbirth, and environmentalists David Suzuki and Rene Ngongo.

The awards will be presented in a ceremony at the Swedish Parliament on December 4, six days before the Nobel Prizes are handed out.