All aboard Yusuf Islam’s Peace Train: ‘Joy is no bad thing’

Yusuf Islam’s Peace Train makes its debut today.
Photo: Christchurch City Council

A miniature train gifted by the artist formerly known as Cat Stevens is getting its first spin today in Christchurch.

Yusuf Islam gifted his “peace train” after the 2019 mosque attacks.

He praised Mahia Te Aroha, a city initiative formed after the attacks to spread peace and compassion.

Islam traveled to Christchurch after the attacks and performed his 1971 hit Peace Train at the rememberance service, two weeks on.

“It’s only a little thing, a little chugger, but it’s a sign of my connection with your beautiful country, your beautiful people, and the hearts that have given so much to the world through this example,” Yusuf Islam said in a video message at the launch of Mahia Te Aroha.

Mahia Te Aroha co-founder Tony Green said Yusuf Islam had wanted to give back to the community for some time.

“What it hopefully will do, one thing is to bring a little bit of joy back, joy is no bad thing,” Green said.

“The big talk is social cohesion, that’s come out of the government and royal commission, but you’ve got to work for it and you’ve got to create the opportunities for people to come together and enjoy an experience.”

He said the artist was deeply touched and impressed by the country’s response to the terror attacks.

The train will ride around the pathway of South Hagley Park, which neighbors the Al Noor Mosque.

A team of 40 volunteers will help run the Peace Train, which is wheelchair-accessible and can carry around 16 people.

It will run every first and third Sunday of the month, except in winter.