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

Te Korowai Whakapono: Religious Diversity Network

ISSN 1178-0924 November, 2010

News & Issues

Each year the Human Rights Commission includes a section on religious diversity in its Race Relations Report. A draft of this section will be written in December / January.

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What do you think were the most important developments this year? Please send comments to nzdiversity@hrc.co.nz.

The final section will be produced in time for the National Interfaith Forum in February.

The 2009 section on religious diversity can be found here.

Race Relations: What’s most important?

Every five years, the New Zealand Government provides a report to the United Nations on its compliance with the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The next report is due in December 2011, and will be compiled by the Ministry of Justice in consultation with other government departments, with input from the public.

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The Human Rights Commission has agreed to encourage and facilitate public input to the report, and so we are asking you to let us know what you think and we will pass it on to the Ministry of Justice. We will also use the information to inform our own annual Race Relations Report, which will be published in March 2011.

Please email us your response to the following questions, or complete a quick online form:

  1. What are the five most positive developments in race relations in the past five years (2006-2010)?
  2. What are the five greatest race relations challenges for the future?

Please send your response to the Commission at nzdiversity@hrc.co.nz by Sunday 21 November 2010. Further opportunities for input will be advised to you in due course.

Update on Workplace Guidelines

The process of developing guidelines for religious diversity in the workplace is reaching its final stages. Both the Working Group and the Reference Group set up for the process will have a joint meeting this month to discuss the revised document for final sign off.

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The purpose of the guidelines is to address a range of issues concerning religion in the New Zealand workplace. It is written in the form of questions and answers to make it more accessible to a wider audience. It has its origins in Wellington at the 2009 Diversity Forum, where the issue of religion in the workplace was discussed. The project is a joint initiative of the Human Rights Commission and the Religious Studies Programme at Victoria University, Wellington.

Start planning for Race Relations Day 2011

The theme for Race Relations Day 2011 is ‘People in Harmony’. Race Relations Day is on 21 March each year but many events take place around the actual day. It is a time when you or your organisation or community can do something to celebrate, learn, discuss, plan or promote diversity in your own context and to achieve diversity goals.

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It is an opportunity to launch new initiatives or promote existing programmes and projects. The Bahá'í community will once again run the Race Unity Speech Award in support of Race Relations Day.

Start planning your Race Relations Day 2011 event or activity now.  If you or your organisation is planning an event to celebrate send us an email.

Register your NZDAP 2011 Projects

The process of registering projects with the NZ Diversity Action Programme (NZDAP) for 2011 has begun. Well done to the Islamic Women’s Council who were one of the first participants to register projects for 2011.We would like to invite others to let us know what you plan to undertake in the coming year. This may be similar projects to the ones you did this year, or new initiatives.

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The process of registering your projects provides an opportunity to firm up on your plans and consider whether there is anything else you want to do to support the objectives of NZDAP. The objectives are to:

  • recognise and celebrate the cultural diversity of our society
  • promote the equal enjoyment by everyone of their civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, regardless of race, colour, ethnicity or national origin
  • foster harmonious relations between diverse peoples
  • give effect to the Treaty of Waitangi.

If you are a participant in the NZDAP this year, you will find your profile and projects on the 2010 list of participants. We have just opened our list of participants for 2011. Your organisation will be added when we receive your 2011 projects. Please contact Rohan Jaduram if you would like to register or   register your projects online.

Congratulations to Lachlan Mackay who has been appointed as the International Ambassador for the New Zealand region for the Council of the World Parliament of Religions.

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The responsibilities of the Ambassador include: 

  • Promoting the mission and values of the Council in working towards a just, peaceful, and sustainable world and promoting peace among the world's religions.
  • Raising awareness about the interreligious movement through creating positive social change by mobilizing networks to come together on the issues most important to them.
  • Communicating with other Ambassadors and nurture the Ambassador program through support, compassion, and feedback.
  • Building knowledge about and interest in the 2014 Parliament by hosting outreach events.

For more information visit World Parliament of Religions.

The Nanaksar Trust has completed 21 Years of Service to the local community in Manukau and Auckland. Established in 1989, the Nanaksar Trust started primarily as a religious charity and built the landmark Sikh Temple on Great South Road in Manurewa.

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Over the years, understanding the needs of the growing community, the Trust took a proactive approach in providing customized solutions for the arising needs. It has been working in diverse areas, including holding an interfaith conference in 2005, with various Government departments, Council offices, community organisations, schools and other charities to ensure that a collaborative approach is made in providing a better future for our communities.

To mark the 21st anniversary, Prime Minister John Key attended the special programme organised to kick start the 21st Anniversary of the Nanaksar Trust on 17 October. He visited the Nanaksar Education Phulwari (the first community based childcare centre by an Indian charity in New Zealand) and spent some time with children and their parents. He appreciated the "inclusive" policy and promised his full support to promote the multi- cultural approach adopted by the Centre.

On Saturday 6 November, 200 people from many different faith backgrounds gathered for an afternoon of sharing sacred words and music on the theme of ‘Gratitude’ held at the Manukau Bahá’í Centre in South Auckland.

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The M.C. for the afternoon was Mr Terry Ball, Executive Committee member of the Council, who did an excellent job of keeping the afternoon flowing smoothly.

There were seven faith groups who each addressed the topic of Gratitude with words and music. Each group had a unique and distinct quality while there was an overall feeling of unity of heart.  The Sikh group, led by AIFC Executive Committee member Dr Kanwal Jit Singh, included 2 sisters who played instruments and chanted verses from Sikh scriptures.  The Nabi family followed, with their son chanting verses from the Holy Qu'ran, the mother sharing words about the Muslim faith, and concluding with a song from the 3 children. Several representatives of the Anglican Maori community then offered songs and heartfelt words. The Bahá'í choir, dressed colourfully in Pacific style clothing, sang and gave a thoughtful reading. Members of this community had gone out of their way to prepare the hall and assist in creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere. Next, monks and members of the Papatoetoe Buddhist Temple spoke and chanted. The Hindu faith was represented by Mr Pravin Patel, teacher Ananya Chaitanya and several members from the Foundation for Self Knowledge, who shared words of wisdom and chanting. The final group was a large choir from the Rowandale Road congregation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints which performed several songs, and a message was delivered by Andrea Kapitene.

President of the AIFC, Ruth Cleaver, delivered brief remarks about the work of the Inter-Faith Council, followed by an afternoon tea.

Diwali bigger than ever in 2010

Diwali celebrations took place around the country throughout October / November.  The celebration provides an effective platform for the local Indian community to showcase their culture and traditions.

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The celebrations ranged from events in Parliament organised by the Office of Ethnic Affairs to staff at Heretaunga College putting together an event on their own. The latter involved teachers dressing mostly in Sarees throughout the day which sent a strong message of diversity, tolerance and adaptability to different cultures (see photo below).

Diwali 2010

Future Events

Attend the Otago Interfaith public lecture

The University of Otago Centre for Theology and Public Issues and the Dunedin Abrahamic Interfaith Group are jointly hosting a lecture by former British MP, Rt Hon John Battle with the topic “From Fear To Respect: Why Building Healthy Interfaith Relationships Matters, Post.”

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Mr Battle is a Christian in the Roman Catholic tradition and founded the NGO, Church Action on Poverty.  He served as a Minister in the Foreign Office and Department of Trade under the Blair administration. Shortly after the 2001 General Elections he was appointed Tony Blair's 'envoy' to the Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, Christian and other faith communities in Britain.  

Date    :           Tuesday, 16 November
Time   :           5.15pm - 6.30pm
Venue :           Archway 2 Lecture Theatre, Union Street East, University of Otago

For further information email Professor Andrew Bradstock   or phone 03 479 8450 / email Rev. Greg Hughson, University Chaplain or phone 03 479 8497.

Holy Week offers spiritual insights

The largest pilgrimage in the world of 2 million people is taking place and will culminate with the festival of Eid -now confirmed for 17 November. The Rasheed Memorial Trust is taking the opportunity to offer learning about the spiritual fundamentals of the religion.

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Starting on the evening of Eid, there will be a number of opportunities to learn more about the spiritual side of Islam at Unitec in Mt Albert. All events are listed on the Trust website.

The Rasheed Memorial Trust Inc. was founded by Abdul Rahim Rasheed Q.S.O. in 2003 and rededicated to him upon his death in 2006 to continue his pioneering efforts in the field of intercultural and interfaith understanding.

The Council of Christians and Muslims will be hosting a public forum “Responsibilities of Parents from a Faith Perspective.”  Hyeeun Kim, a Christian Minister and Waseema Ahmed, an active member of the Muslim community will be the speaker.

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Date    :           Monday, 22 November
Time   :           7.30pm
Venue :           Ponsonby Mosque 17 Vermont Street Ponsonby, Auckland. 

Free admission.  For information contact Gul Zaman 2713347 or Joan Brock 6255465.

The Wellington Inter-Faith Council will be holding a Multi-Faith Celebration of Unity through music, song, and poetry from the many faiths represented by the Council. 

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Date    :           Wednesday, 15 December
Time   :           7pm
Venue :           St Andrew's on The Terrace, 30 The Terrace

Admission is by koha towards future Wellington Interfaith events. For more information contact Eileen Mueller.

The Islamic Women’s Council of New Zealand will be holding its Annual Convention in Hamilton.  The conference is for Muslim women, but there will be a public session on Saturday 22 January 2011, including lunch. 

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Date    :           21-23 January 2011

Further details will be provided soon.  We would appreciate it if people could save the date, and welcome all visitors, male and female, to the public session. 

Enquiries may be directed to conference@yourwowma.com.

The Wellington Interfaith Council will be sponsoring the 8th National Interfaith Forum in Wellington between 26 and 28 February 2011. Once again  there will be a separate youth and a women’s component. The National Youth Interfaith Forum will be held on Saturday 26 February and The National Women’s Interfaith Forum will be held on Sunday 27 February.

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The National Interfaith Forum will start on the evening of Sunday 27 February with the opening ceremony and a guest speaker, and will continue all day Monday 28 February in the Legislative Council Chamber in Parliament.

More details will be published as they become available on the NZ Interfaith Group website or contact Dr Pushpa Wood for more information.

The Race Unity Speech Award will be held again in support of Race Relations Day through March 2011 and will culminate with the finals on 2 April 2011 in Auckland.

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The Race Unity Speech Award offers students the chance to share a $1500 top prize with their school. For 2011, the speech topic will follow the theme of Race Relations Day next year 'People in Harmony'. Contestants are invited to prepare a 7-8 minute speech on the topic. Entries must be in before 11 March 2011.

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.

For further information contact Bev Watson.

Did You Know?

The United Nations passed a resolution to create World Interfaith Harmony Week annually.  The goal of the World Interfaith Harmony Week is to give a platform for all religions to organize and work together.

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The UN resolution urged all member states to designate the first week of February every year as the World Interfaith Harmony Week. It asked them to "support, on a voluntary basis, the spread of the message of interfaith harmony and goodwill in the world's churches, mosques, synagogues, temples and other places of worship during that week based on Love of God and Love of the Neighbour, or based on Love of the Good and Love of the Neighbour, each according to their own religious traditions or convictions."

World Interfaith Harmony Week will take place the first week of February.

Find out more about Why did the U.N. proclaim World Interfaith Harmony Week?