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Human Rights Commission

Te Korowai Whakapono: NZ Inter-Faith Network

February 2007

The Human Rights Commission facilitates an interfaith network as part of the New Zealand Diversity Action Programme.  To join the network mailing list e-mail and specify Interfaith Network in the subject line.

Kia ora mai koutou katoa – welcome to Te Korowai Whakapono, an interfaith network update which aims to support and publicise groups that undertake interfaith activities, projects and programmes that contribute to religious tolerance, public understanding of religions, and interfaith cooperation for peace, security and harmonious relations.  The network operates on the principles of inclusivity, mutual respect, acceptance of difference and the autonomy of participants. Please feel free to pass this newsletter on to others.



New Zealand Diversity Action Programme: Interfaith Projects 2007

The following interfaith projects have been registered with the NZ Diversity Action Programme for 2007. If your organisation is undertaking an interfaith programme or initiative, you are encouraged to register it with the programme by completing the registration form here.

Te Korowai Whakapono: Interfaith Network The Human Rights Commission will facilitate the Aotearoa New Zealand Interfaith Network. An electronic newsletter, Te Korowai Whakapono, will be published monthly, listing information on interfaith events and activities provided by participants in the network. An annual religious diversity forum, focusing on strategic and policy issues, will be held as part of the New Zealand Diversity Forum on August 27-28.

National Statement on Religious Diversity

The Victoria University Religious Studies Programme, together with the Race Relations Commissioner, is developing a national statement on religious diversity. The purpose of the statement is to promote religious tolerance, improve communication between government and faith communities, affirm the right to freedom of religion, and to provide a framework for harmonious relationships within communities. The first draft was presented to the interfaith forum at the NZ Diversity Forum in 2006. A reference group of faith community and human rights representatives was then convened to advise on a further draft, which was released for public consultation in October 2006. The statement will be further revised in the light of public feedback and presented to the national interfaith forum in Hamilton in February 2007.

National Interfaith Forum

The Waikato Interfaith Council will host the 2007 National Interfaith Forum in Hamilton on 18-19 February. This forum brings together representatives of interfaith groups from around New Zealand, other faith community leaders, central and local government representatives and interested individuals. There will be a separate Women’s Forum on Sunday 18 February.

Interfaith Directory

In 2006 the Victoria University Religious Studies Programme, together with the Ministry of

Foreign Affairs and Trade, ASIA: NZ Foundation and the NZ Diversity Action Programme, compiled a Directory of Interfaith and Ecumenical Activity in New Zealand. The scope of the directory makes it unique both in NZ and internationally. The directory will be updated in 2007.

Race Relations Day: March 21

The Human Rights Commission will encourage faith communities to participate in Race Relations Day, the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, on 21 March and at religious services on the preceding weekend. The focus of the day in 2007 is on youth, and the theme is inclusion: New Zealand Aotearoa: 4allofus.

Symposium on the Alliance of Civilisations Report: Auckland, 24 May

The Prime Minister, Helen Clark, with co-sponsorship by the government of Norway, will host a high level symposium in Auckland on 24 May 2007 to discuss the report of the Alliance of Civilisations High Level Group. The symposium will bring together a small group of leaders, community representatives and experts.

Exhibition: In God We Trust

The Waikato Museum in Hamilton will present a large-scale community exhibition to examine the role of religion and belief in the Waikato at the beginning of the new millennium. The popularity of Christianity, the religion on which our laws are founded, has declined, but major non Christian religions including Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism have had increasing populations in New Zealand. The exhibition will provide the opportunity to learn about and explore the religions of their neighbours, co-workers and friends in a safe environment.

Asia Pacific Regional Interfaith Dialogue: Waitangi

The New Zealand Government will host a Regional Interfaith Dialogue meeting at Waitangi, New Zealand, 29 - 31 May 2007. The dialogue is co-sponsored by New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia and the Philippines. This regional process will bring faith and community leaders, experts and other civil society representatives from 15 countries from Southeast Asia and the South Pacific to discuss and promote means of enhancing mutual understanding, tolerance and peaceful co-existence amongst the region’s faiths and communities – and in so doing to address the some of the potential causes of religious conflict and extremism in the region. The overall emphasis of the Waitangi meeting will be on developing relations – or building bridges – between faith communities.

AEN Journal: Focus on Faith and Interfaith Issues

The fourth issue of the Aotearoa Ethnic Network (AEN) Journal in May-June will focus on faith and inter-faith issues. New Zealand’s ethnic and religious diversity has grown dramatically over recent years. Growing interest in cultural diversity needs to be matched by discussions about this religious diversity if stressors caused by religious and ethnic differences evident overseas are to be successfully avoided or negotiated here. Changes to immigration policy have resulted in the growth of both diasporic religious traditions (such as Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and so on) and the invigoration of Christian denominations. Faith- Community organisations are seen as playing an important part in the development of civil society.

National Interfaith Website

The New Zealand Interfaith Group will maintain and further develop the New Zealand Interfaith website ( ) with news and information on interfaith issues. The site contains a directory, a calendar of events and a calendar of religious festivals.

Interfaith Seminars: Life Cycles

The Auckland Inter-Faith Council is organising a series of Life Cycles Interfaith Seminars on the following topics, with the intention of having speakers from four different faith communities:

• Birth (including welcoming and naming ceremonies) - (Tentative): Wed 18 April

• Youth (including rites of passage, such as coming-of-age ceremonies) - (Tentative): Mon 4 June

• Maturity (including sacred adult moments, such as weddings, religious leadership rites, holy orders) - (Tentative): Sun 19 August

• Seasons (the yearly cycle of holy days and feast days) - (Tentative): Wed 25 October.

The dates of all the talks are yet to be confirmed, and it is anticipated that they will be held in the centres of different religions.

Islam Awareness Week: August

Islam Awareness Week is a week of information and activities organised by the Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand to increase New Zealanders’ awareness of their beliefs, values and practices, and to tackle misinformation about their religion in a positive way.

Portraits of Asian Muslims in New Zealand

Asia:NZ plans to publish a book of portraits of Asian Muslims at home in NZ, and will also explore the use of the portraits for an exhibition and a documentary.

Educational Resource: Heavenly Melting Pot

In November Fairfax Newspapers in Education will publish an edition of their Newslinks mini newspaper for schools entitled Heavenly Melting Pot. The resource is aimed at children in years 7-8, and will look at characteristics, roles and cultural expressions of the various religious groups living in NZ.

Week of Prayer for World Peace

The New Zealand Interfaith Group will promote participation in the international multi-faith Week of Prayer for World Peace from 21-28 October. Although it was a Christian initiative, it soon became an interfaith activity. The first Chairman, the late Edward Carpenter, former Dean of Westminster, established the guiding principle of the Week in the words “The peace of the world must be prayed for by the faiths of the world”.

National Islamic Women’s Convention

The Islamic Women’s Council of New Zealand will hold its annual convention in Palmerston North in April. The conference includes an open session for guest speakers and the wider community to join the delegates to discuss topical social issues relating to women, Islam and the community.

Proposed Centre for Interfaith Dialogue and Education

The Rasheed Memorial Dawah Trust has a proposal to establish an interfaith dialogue and education centre in Auckland as a memorial to Abdul Rahim Rasheed, a pioneer of interfaith dialogue between Islam, Judaism and Christianity in New Zealand, who died in 2006. The Centre will strive to promote the universal religious values of friendship, acceptance, tolerance and fair-play. The Trust will seek wider community funding and support in 2007 to implement the proposal.

Building Bridges Programme

 In 2006 the Building Bridges Programme was developed in partnership with the Office of Ethnic Affairs (OEA) and the Muslim community in response to a number of global and local events.  The overall purpose of the Building Bridges Programme has been to work with the Muslim community on a number of complex strategic issues that have been identified through consultation with the community.  These include:

  • Building relationships between Muslim and other New Zealand communities
  • Helping facilitate dialogue on critical issues
  • Promoting positive awareness and visibility of Muslims in New Zealand
  • Developing capacity within the community to address these issues

In 2007 OEA will continue to identify ongoing issues and opportunities in these areas and work in partnership with the community, in particular extending dialogue on critical issues related to Muslim communities in the West.

Interactive Community Forums

The Auckland City Council will host their second Interactive Community Forum on Interfaith Initiatives in 2007. The forum is organised to provide a space for dialogue and information sharing between various faith-based and interfaith groups. Auckland City Interfaith project team is also planning an Interfaith and Media forum for 2007. This forum will be modelled on an Ethnic and Media forum hosted by Auckland City in 2005. The forum provided mainstream media the opportunity to dialogue with ethnic community members in order to address issues around reporting in a multicultural environment. Along with these projects Auckland City is supporting the Life Cycles Interfaith Seminars organised by the Auckland Inter-faith Council.        

Faith Communities Network

This is a reminder that Amnesty International is seeking to make formal links between Amnesty and communities of faith. To this end they have set up a Faith Communities Network which provides links between Amnesty International NZ and people of religious faith, promoting among them the cause of human rights.  The Network encourages interfaith relationships as a way to be more effective in the broader community, while also breaking down prejudice.  Its quarterly newsletter includes news and resources, and cases of human rights abuse where "urgent action" is invited.  The newsletter particularly covers up to date news on international conflicts. If you would like to receive a sample newsletter, please e-mail the coordinator:



The Council of Christians and Jews and the Council of Christians and Muslims will bring together young people from the Jewish, Christian and Muslim faith for a retreat 23 – 25 February. The purpose is to establish a national youth interfaith body. The retreat will be a starting point to identify the grounds for such an organisation such as: vision, mission, aims & objectives and a strategic plan for the next 2 years. Please contact Tayyaba Khan for more information.

The New Zealand Association for Rationalists and Humanists (NZARH) will host Dr Bill Cooke who will speak on the Humanist movement in India on Sunday 25th February, 7pm at Rationalist House, 64 Symonds Street, Auckland City. Bill Cooke has recently returned from the Fourth Rationalist International Conference in New Delhi where he delivered a talk entitled "Planetary Humanism: Dream and Reality." For further enquiries: phone(09) 373 5131 or email

Brisbane will be host to the first National Interfaith Festival 10 - 11 March. There will be presentations from high profile religious leaders. Together with internationally acclaimed musicians, artistic activities, rituals and customs explained, workshops, games and youth programmes there will be stalls to explore, exquisite international food to delight the palate and much, much more. Various religious communities are participating, giving you the opportunity to understand some of the special elements of their traditions. More details can be can be found at



The New Zealand Baha'i community has worked especially hard in the area of fostering positive race relations, and for the past five years has run an annual Race Unity Speech Award in partnership with the Hedi Moani Charitable Trust. The Race Unity Speech Award is an annual event held in support of Race Relations Day. It was initiated in March 2001 in memory of Hedi Moani, an Iranian-born Baha'i who worked all his life to promote positive race relations. The Speech Award is co-sponsored by the Hedi Moani Charitable Trust and the NZ Baha'i Community and is now virtually a nationwide competition. The competition challenges senior high school students to consider various aspects of racism and to suggest what can be done about them.

The topic for 2007 is The Oneness of Humanity and is taken from the quote 'To accept the oneness of humanity is to embrace the variations that characterise human society, and to desire for every individual the opportunity to develop and express his or her unique capacities and inherent talents'.

During the course of their speeches, students are required to consider what the 'oneness of humanity' means in a real sense; suggest how the quotation could be applied to race relations in Aotearoa/New Zealand, and suggest how we can learn 'to embrace the variations that characterise human society'. Students should also consider what changes we would see in Aotearoa/New Zealand if we learned how to do this.

Over the last two years the Baha’i community have also run a Race Unity Conference which will take place again in 2007. The Conference grew out of the Speech Awards and is held in conjunction with the National Finals. It will take place on Saturday 31 March in Auckland and is aimed at young people aged 15-25.
Please contact Bev Watson 0212576526 or for any enquiries  




For more information about the Human Rights Commission Te Korowai Whakapono: NZ inter-faith Network, please contact:

Rohan Jaduram

09 3758640