Ukranian schoolgirl from St Joe’s joins anti-war protest

A 12-year old Ukranian schoolgirl has joined a Hamilton-based anti-war protest movement.

Emilia Shyra (12) and her father, Yuriy Shyryy (pictured), joined many others  from Ukraine and Waikato’s European community at Saturday’s protest in front of Hamilton’s council building.

“My father is holding a sign that says ‘Stand with Ukraine’ and this is why I am here today.

“I am from Lviv and still have family there. It’s really scary. It’s horrendous what [Russia] does to the Ukraine.”

She says when she started school at St Joseph’s Catholic School in Fairfield, no one knew where her home country was.

“Now that it is all over the news, people are always checking in. It’s so nice to see the support.

“My teacher said [the school] is considering doing a fundraising day of Caritas Ukraine, but there is no set date yet.”

Saturday’s gathering was the second protest the group had organised, after an initial protest the week before.

Hamilton West MP Dr Gaurav Sharma attended the first protest and says he shared the Ukrainian community’s concerns.

“I met up with a couple of members of the Ukrainian community in one of my constituent clinics. They told me about the protest the following day and I went to show my support.”

He says he raised his concerns with the minister and the Labour Caucus.

“The Government has just approved another $4 million for humanitarian aid and is currently reviewing further options,” he said.

At the same time though, he wants it to be clear that the Government’s support for Ukraine isn’t about New Zealand’s Russian community, but about the Russian Government and the war.

“I heard from the Russian community that they received a bit of a backlash in the past couple of weeks. [But] not all Russians, here or in Russia, are in favour of the war,” he says.



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