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Newsletters > Diversity Action Programme > Te Korowai Whakapono: Religious Diversity Network > 2010 > April

Te Korowai Whakapono: Religious Diversity Network

ISSN 1178-0924 April, 2010

News & Issues

The process of developing ‘guidelines’ for religious diversity in the workplace has now begun with members of the Working Group and Reference Group meeting to discuss the terms of reference.

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The Human Rights Commission is undertaking the development of 'guidelines' jointly with the Victoria University of Wellington (VUW) Religious Studies Programme. The Human Rights Commission receives a steady flow of enquiries and complaints regarding accommodating religious practices in the workplace.

The Working Group members comprise people directly involved in workplace issues: Department of Labour, Business NZ, AUT School of Business, NZ Council of Trade Unions, and the Human Rights Commission. The Reference Group represents significant religious and belief groups in New Zealand. Members include: Rev Richard Randerson; Dr Anwar Ghani; Glyn Carpenter, Verpal Singh; Amala Wrightson; Manuka Henare; Dr Rajiv Chatuvedi; Andrew Geard; Paddy Payne and Stephen Goodman.

The consultation process involves three elements:

  • a small working group to develop a draft for public consultation. T
  • a reference group to provide input to the working group on terms of reference, feedback on the first draft and feedback on the final draft.
  • a public consultation through the Religious Diversity Network and employment networks.

The Working Group will prepare the initial draft 'guidelines' for the Reference Group to provide feedback on before it goes out for public consultation.

Thank you to those who have registered projects this year with the NZ Diversity Action Programme.

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Some faith based and interfaith organisations who have registered so far include Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama'at, Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand, Hindu Council of NZ, Hindu Youth Foundation, NZ Interfaith Group, Rasheed Memorial Da'wah Trust, Anand Isher Education Community Trust, Christchurch Interfaith Council and the Auckland Interfaith Council.

We encourage other faith based and interfaith organisations to register their projects with the programme. If you would like to register, we would love to hear what you are planning (or what you have already done) for this year, so that we can publicise your projects on our website. You can register online or email us. Please contact Rohan Jaduram for any enquiries about the NZ Diversity Action Programme.

The NZ Diversity Action Programme brings together organisations taking practical initiatives to:

  • Recognise and celebrate the cultural diversity of our society (diverse).
  • Promote the equal enjoyment by everyone of their civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, regardless of race, colour, ethnicity or national origin (equal).
  • Foster harmonious relations between diverse peoples (harmonious).

The NZ Diversity Action Programme came about in response to the desecration of Jewish cemeteries in 2004 when community leaders convened in Parliament to discuss what action to take. The Programme is facilitated by the Human Rights Commission on behalf of all participants.

The Human Rights Commission will host three lunch meetings to get more feedback on the final draft section on the right to freedom of religion and belief in its status report Human Rights in New Zealand Today.

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The meetings will be held in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

  • Wellington: Friday 7 May, 12pm - 1.30pm, L1 Vector Building, 44-52, The Terrace
  • Auckland: Tuesday 25 May, 12pm-1.30pm, L4 Tower Centre, 45 Queen Street
  • Christchurch: Wednesday 26 May, 12pm-1.30, venue (TBC).

The status report, first published in 2004, formed the basis for the New Zealand Action Plan for Human Rights 2005-2010. If you would like to provide feedback directly please visit the Commission's website and provide feedback by 14 May.

Speech Award Winners

The Race Relations Commissioner, Joris de Bres, awarded Aperahama Hurihanganui representing Rotorua Boys’ High School, the top prize at the Race Unity Speech finals in Auckland on 10 April.

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Mindy Hu representing Chilton St James School, Wellington, was runner up. Aperahama's speech was delivered in te reo Māori which made him the first participant to win it in te reo. His speech and Mindy's will be able to be viewed on the Human Rights Commission website.

Initiated in 2001 by the New Zealand Baha'i Community to commemorate Race Relations Day, the Race Unity Speech Award is supported by the Human Rights Commission, New Zealand Police, and the Office of Ethnic Affairs. This year marked the 10th anniversary of the nationwide speech contest and plans are underway to commemorate this milestone later this month in Wellington.

The Speech Award challenges school students in Years 11, 12, and 13 to consider various aspects of racism and to suggest what can be done about it. For 2010, the speech topic was 'Diversity in the human family'. Contestants from throughout the country were invited to prepare a 7-8 minute speech on the topic.

Please contact Bev Watson if you would like to learn more about the speech contest.

For the first time in New Zealand history, Māori will now be able to read the Muslim holy book, the Koran, in Te Reo Māori.

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The Ahmadiyya Muslim community has been working on the translation project for more than 20 years and has translated just over half of the Koran. The 16 parts have been published into a book comprising the original Arabic text with Māori translation and was launched in the weekend. The launch event held at Alexandra Park was a combination of Māori culture and Islamic tradition, uniting two communities as one.

The translation project was initiated by the head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, the late Mirza Tahir Ahmad, during his visit to New Zealand in 1989. He believed that the Māori language was here to stay and encouraged the local branch of the organisation to begin working on translating selected verses of the Koran into Māori.

The local president of the Ahmadiyya Community, Dr Mohammad Shorab sees the translation of the Koran is a great way to honour the community's motto: Love for all, hatred for none. "Islam is a universal religion," says Dr. Shorab. "For that reason it is important to invest in other languages and traditions to gain a better understanding of the people around us.

"The Holy Qur'an is the most precious thing to Muslims and its translation into Te Reo not only shows our respect and regard for the Māori community, but is also a way to share with New Zealand something that is very special and meaningful to us."

The credit of the translation largely goes to Mr. Shakil Monir, a Pakistani teacher with a love for religion and the Koran. While working in a school in Nigeria in 1993, Mr Monir began to teach himself Māori with an English to Māori dictionary, Māori Bible and a book of Māori grammar. With a few extra years of dedicated study Mr Monir began the challenging task of translating the Koran into Te Reo.

"I am very happy that the first half of the Holy Qur'an has been printed in the Māori language," says Mr. Monir. "Not being a Māori myself, there have been some limitations." Mr. Munir added that with the help of 5 to 6 different Māori language experts, he is confident that the Māori translation is fairly accurate and as close as possible to the original Arabic text.

The Koran has been translated into more than sixty languages worldwide by the Ahmadiyya Community but a translation created and published in New Zealand is the first of its kind. "This is a huge milestone for our local community," says Dr. Shorab. "But, God willing, this will not be the limit of our efforts to become an active, peace-loving community in New Zealand."

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is a religious organisation, international in its scope. It has branches in over 193 countries in Africa, America, Asia, Australasia, and Europe with worldwide membership exceeding tens of millions. The New Zealand branch of this community was established in 1987 and has just over 200 members. It is a registered charitable organisation and endeavours to be an active and integrated community within New Zealand.

Interfaith Youth Facebook

Interfaith Youth leaders involved in the National Interfaith Youth Forum are progressing the idea of setting up a Facebook group.

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The purpose of the group will be to have robust discussions around:

  • the practical importance of the interfaith movement
  • whether a national network would hinder the natural establishment of local youth multifaith groups
  • the best approaches for reaching out to young people
  • developing leaders
  • establishing an interactive website or some form of a publication
  • deciding upon a name, mission, and future direction.

An informal network of youth interfaith leaders developed after successful National Interfaith Youth Forum's in Auckland last year and in Christchurch this year in February. Both forums were held in conjunction with the National Interfaith Forum.

Vaisakhi on the Square 2010

Manukau Square was alive with colour, music and performances as the third annual Vaisakhi on the Square event was celebrated on Saturday 10 April.

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Over 100,000 people attended the event in traditional dress, transforming the area into a sea of colours and festivity. Organised by the Anand Isher Education Community (AIEC) Trust, the event celebrated the harvest festival Vaisakhi. Vaisakhi is a very important day for Sikhs and one of the most colourful events in the Sikh calendar.

The purpose of the event was to raise awareness of the cultural celebrations of Vaisakhi and invite the wider communities to join in and celebrate. The annual event has become a highlight in Manukau City's Event Calendar, bridging differences between the city's diverse ethnicities.

This year the AIEC Trust took Vaisakhi Celebrations to six branches of Manukau Libraries. This involved students presenting on Indian Festivals and highlighting the celebrations around the harvesting season with Bhangra and Gidda performances. The Vaisakhi celebrations attracted children and families from various ethinc backgrounds to the Mangere, Papatoetoe, Botany, Pakuranga, Manurewa and Manukau City Centre libraries.

The Anand Isher Educational and Community Trust (AIECT), a registered charity, is committed to promotion of educational, community and awareness activities. Since its inception it has worked to bring not only the Indian community but the other communities together on a common platform, encouraging understanding of different communities. The Trust has recently been working with various community organisations and departments of Manukau City Council. For more information about AIEC Trust, please contact Rajvinder Singh.

All faith communities are encouraged to celebrate Samoan Language Week which will take place from Sunday 30 May to Saturday 5 June, and will coincide with Samoan Independence Day on 1 June.

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Plan your activity now in your church, temple or mosque and let us know.

The 2010 theme is O le tātou gagana Sāmoa I Niu Sila - Our Samoan language in New Zealand. For those taking part outside New Zealand, this can be shortened or changed to the country concerned.

For more information visit the Commission's website or the Samoan Language Week Facebook page.

The Auckland Inter-Faith Council’s series of public talks for this year is entitled “Journeys of Faith”.

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Each evening someone with a particularly interesting story will speak, beginning with David Shadrack on April 29. Mr Shadrack is a fourth generation South African of Indian descent, from a Christian family, whose faith has been tested, moulded and reshaped by the social and political background of his native country. A teacher of English, History and Biblical Studies in South Africa, Mr Shadrack will share about his childhood, his faith, and the tragedies and joys he has faced in life.

All are welcome to attend.

  • Date: Thursday, April 29
  • Time: 7:30 p.m.
  • Venue: Parnell Peace Embassy, 24 St Stephens Avenue, Parnell

Parking is available on the street or in the adjacent vacant lot. Admission is free, and a light supper will be served.

Future Events

Christchurch Interfaith Public Talk

A Christchurch Interfaith group panel discussion will be held on the topic of pregnancy, birth and associated rituals.

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The discussion will include members of the Catholic, Hindu, Muslim and Unification Faiths, on Tuesday 27 April, 7.00 - 9.00pm. It will be held at the Parish Hall of St Matthew's Church, 108 Jeffreys Road (on the corner of Ilam and Jeffreys Roads). This is an excellent opportunity to learn and to share with people of other faiths.

The Council of Christians and Muslims is hosting a public talk by Antony Lowenstein.

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Antony Lowenstein is a guest speaker at the Auckland Writers and Readers Festival in May. He describes himself as "an atheist Jewish-Australian political activist." He will be interviewed by Afroz Ali, the founder of Sydney's Al-Ghazali Centre for Islamic Science and Human development.

  • When: Monday 17 May, 7.30pm
  • Venue: Liston Hall (parish hall of St Patrick Catheral). Enter from Hobson Street or St Patrick's Square.

Due to heavy demand, the Rasheed Memorial Trust has organised another series of workshops on Islamic faith for service providers to Muslim clients.

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The workshop is also aimed at those who otherwise would find knowledge about Islam and its practices and beliefs to be useful in their work or contact with members of the Muslim community. It is an opportunity to gain different insights into commonly misunderstood aspects of the Islamic faith and impacts on service provision.

Afroz Ali from Sydney, Australia and Steve James of Auckland, will facilitate the workshop. Between them they bring extensive experience in conducting similar workshops and seminars to service providers across Australia; skills and facilitating experience; and a local Kiwi approach.

The workshop is scheduled from 18- 19 May. More information is available on the RMDT website, and you need to pre-register online (by 20 April).

A collection of sacred relics of the Buddha and many other Buddhist masters is currently touring the world and is coming to Auckland in May.

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This is a rare opportunity to view these sacred relics, which were found among the cremation ashes of Buddhist masters. They resemble beautiful, pearl-like crystals. Buddhists believe relics embody the master's spiritual qualities of compassion and wisdom and are deliberately produced by the master at his death.

The opening ceremony will be held on Friday 14 May and will formally welcome the holy relics to the city. The interfaith event will be attended by local VIPs, Sangha, Masters, ministers and local religious leaders, emphasising religious tolerance and world peace. A DVD presentation and live presentations by the Relic Managers will explain more about the relics are, why they are touring and the reasons it is beneficial to be in their presence.

The exhibition is open to the public. See details below:

  • Date: 15- 16 May (10am- 7pm)
  • Venue: Awataha Marae, 58 Akoranga Drive, Northcote, Auckland
  • There is no entrance charge but donations are welcome.

Theology and the Ethics of Food

This full day seminar and workshop explores the value of food in our health and wellbeing from nutritional, spiritual and environmental perspectives.

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The thought provoking seminar is to be presented by Imam Afroz Ali. There are limited spaces so register now.

  • Date: 2 May 2010
  • Time: 9.00am
  • Venue: Unitec- Gate 4.

3rd Hindu Conference

Encouraged by the responses that were received for the 1st and 2nd New Zealand Hindu Conferences, the Hindu Council of New Zealand will be hosting the third conference from 15- 16 May 2010 with the theme “Sustaining New Zealand through strengthening bond amongst communities”.

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Topics include:

  • understanding Māori, Hindu and New Zealand communities
  • developing relations and working with the New Zealand Government agencies
  • bridging the gap among Hindus in New Zealand coming from different countries
  • strengthening the bond among different schools of Hindu darma i.e Shaiza, Vaishnava, Veershaiva, Sakta, Arya samaj.

Some of the conference session chairpersons include Joris De Bres (Race Relations Commissioner, Human Rights Commission), Dr Rajen Prasad (ex- Chief Commissioner of the Families Commission and currently a Member of Parliament), Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi (Member of Parliament), Pravin Patel (community leader).

Registration fee for the two-day conference will be $50 per person. Please email them for more information.

Did You Know?

Applications are now open for the OHCHR Minorities Fellowship Programme (MFP).

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The Programme was launched in 2005 aims to give persons belonging to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities - particularly young minority women and men - an opportunity to gain knowledge on the UN system and mechanisms dealing with international human rights and minority rights.

The Fellowship Programme is intended to assist organisations and communities in protecting and promoting the rights of minorities the fellows belong to.

The MFP is held annually and currently has two linguistic versions: the English programme and the Arabic programme. The English programme has been running since 2005 and lasts on average 3 months. The Arabic programme started in 2007 and has been gradually expanding from 2 to 4 weeks.

The Fellows are based at the OHCHR in Geneva, Switzerland. The programme is interactive and consists of briefings on several topics as well as individual and group assignments.

Fellows are entitled to the following: a return ticket (economy class) from the country of residence to Geneva; basic health insurance for the duration of the Programme; and a grant to cover modest accommodation in Geneva for the duration of the Programme and other living expenses.

Applications for the English Programme close on 3 May 2010. For more information on the fellowship and how to apply please visit the OHCHR website.