VOLUME 3 - NUMBER 1 – February 2008
News and Issues
National Interfaith Network
A warm welcome to the new subscribers that have joined since our last issue. We now have 400 on the network which includes people from many faiths and beliefs. Remember that it is your network and as a subscriber you can post an item simply by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and it will be included in the monthly newsletter. If you have any suggestions about improving the quality of the newsletter or facilitating the network then please don’t hesitate to forward ideas. Subscribe to any of our other monthly e-newsletters via our website .
The Wellington Interfaith Council warmly extends an invitation to
§ all participants in interfaith activity throughout New Zealand
§ anyone who has a keen interest in becoming involved in interfaith activity
§ those who have a sincere interest in deepening their interfaith understanding
to join them for the 5th National Interfaith Forum at Parliament Buildings, Wellington, on
Sunday 9 March (5.30pm welcome and dinner; 7.30pm Keynote Speaker) and Monday 10 March (9.00am – 5.00pm Forum) and to participate in: workshops; purposeful dialogue; celebration; meditation/prayer; shared food and music. A registration form for the forum is attached.
In addition to the National Interfaith Forum a National Women’s Interfaith Forum and a National Youth Interfaith Forum are being held as well. A registration form for the youth forum on Saturday 8 March is also attached. For more information email email@example.com. The National Women’s Interfaith Forum will be held on Sunday 9 March in the Parliament Buildings. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Race Relations Day 18 March: Finding Common Ground
The annual Diversity Season is upon us, with a multitude of multicultural events from now until Race Relations Day and even beyond. Race Relations Day is traditionally held on 21 March, but since that is also Good Friday it will be marked throughout the preceding week and on the weekends either side of Easter. There is a list of events on our Race Relations Day web pages, The theme for this year is Finding Common Ground, and discussion will be promoted on the draft Statement on Race Relations. Posters and postcards have already been printed, and you can order copies from email@example.com . If you are organising an event then we would like to know (see contribution by Bahai’i community below).
“My God” Television Series
Congratulations to Pacific Crews Production Company who have received further funding from NZ On Air to produce a third 10 part television series, My God. The half hour programmes, will again be hosted by Chris Nichol, and will continue to explore and celebrate the spiritual diversity of New Zealanders. Each programme focuses on the life and beliefs of one NZ personality. Participants are selected for their unique perspective on life, each representing one of NZ’s many and diverse religious groups. Please contact Amanda Evans firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
Interfaith Forum Working Together
Auckland City Council hosted their second interactive interfaith forum on 19 January. There were around 60 people who participated in a successful and productive day. The forum was an opportunity to come together and engage in the practical experience of interfaith activity in a creative and interactive environment. Workshops included contributions faiths have to community building, points in common and invitation to action. Please contact Barbara.email@example.com for more details.
Rabbi David Rose Visit
Rabbi David Rose, from the Edinburgh Inter-faith Association, will be visiting New Zealand in March. Rabbi David Rose is the Hebrew Congregation Rabbi for the East of Scotland, and is an Executive Member of the Edinburgh Inter-Faith Association and an Executive Member of the Conference of Scotland's Religious Leaders. He is keen to have beneficial engagements to offer insights, experience and support on matters of inter-faith relations, dialogue, respect and cooperation as well as the wider issues of social cohesion and integration. The Edinburgh Interfaith Association has close working relationships with both the council and the Scottish Government, and advises the police and health authorities. Please contact Wayne Church Wayne.firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to arrange to meet Rabbi David Rose.
New Zealand Buddhist Council
Efforts to establish a Buddhist Council in New Zealand, so that Buddhist communities can work together on common issues, are progressing. Currently, a working group is finalising a constitution., and on 19 January they met with Hon. Chris Carter, Minister for Ethnic Affairs, and Carl Andrews from Immigration New Zealand, to discuss problems Buddhist communities are having in providing continuity of leadership by Buddhist clergy from overseas under present Permanent Residency regulations.
Fifteen communities were represented at the meeting, ranging from Whangarei to Hamilton. The meeting was positive and discussions with government are ongoing. The Auckland Buddhist community also came together to offer prayers at Holy Trinity Cathedral for Sir Edmund Hillary, led by Sangha (monks and nuns) from the Auckland Vajrayana community. Vajrayana is the type of Buddhism practiced by the Sherpas in Nepal. For further information please contact Amala Wrightson email@example.com .
The Foundation for Self Knowledge (FSKNZ) and the Hindu Council of NZ jointly facilitated a Hindu Heritage camp 26 – 28 January. The theme of the camp was 'Happy Children in Happy Families and Happy Communities'. The camp is primarily an initiative by interested and concerned Hindu parents who wish to enrich the lives of their children with our age-old traditions and culture. Children and families from all cultures attended and took part experienced the rich Hindu traditions and values. Various staff of government agencies also attended. The camp was held at the campus of the Hindu Heritage Centre in Mangere East.
Free Lectures on Yoga
The Hindu Council of New Zealand Inc. invites you to free lectures on Yoga at the Hindu Heritage Centre, Auckland on Saturday, 23 February and Sunday, 24 February 2008.
The lectures are organised at the Hindu Heritage Centre to generate interest for the next New Zealand Hindu Conference in May 2008. The theme of the next conference is “Sustaining New Zealand communities through health benefits of Yoga, Meditation and Ayurveda”. Registrations are essential, - please contact the coordinator Smt Sonali Hedge at Sonali.Hegde@simpl.co.nz or phone (09) 623 4241 or 021 184 5640 by Tuesday, 19 February 2008.
Initial efforts are underway to organise a seminar on Spirituality and Mental Health. It is anticipated that the proposed seminar will take place some time in March or April. The Hindu Council would welcome comment and any suggestions. Please contact Guna Magesan Guna.Magesan@scionresearch.com
Journey to Remember: Three Day Inter-faith Pilgrimage Trail: Easter Weekend March 21 - 23
Journey to Remember is a three-day, 40km overland pilgrimage trail that connects some of Rodney’s long-established centres of spirituality. It also supports the Hibiscus Coast Hospice. The three-day pilgrimage trail starts at the Hare Krishna temple in Riverhead and visits the Peacehaven Christian retreat house and labyrinth before crossing into the Riverhead Forest. Day two of the walk starts at Dairy Flat and pilgrims spend time at the Tibetan Buddhist Monastery in Wainui which is home to the largest statue of the Buddha in the Southern Hemisphere. Day three, Easter Sunday, starts at the historic and delightful Wainui church. From there the pilgrimage trail passes over a number of private farms some of which have wonderful views of rural and coastal Rodney. The three-day walk ends at the beautiful church of Sts Peter & Paul in Puhoi.
Journey to Remember started out as a way for people to remember a loved one who had died. However, the idea has evolved into something much bigger than purely a memorial walk. Journey to Remember is also:
While Journey to Remember is a three-day walk, participants will be able to sign-on to walk one, two or three days of the 40km trail.
To find out more about Journey to Remember visit www.hchospice.org.nz or call the Hibiscus Coast Hospice fundraising line on 421-9152 to request an information pack.
The Race Unity Speech Award offers school students in Years 11,12, and 13, the chance to share a $1500 top prize with their school. For 2008, the speech topic is Finding Common Ground / He Rapunga Tahitanga. Contestants are invited to prepare a 7-8 minute speech on the topic. Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres will award the top prize at the final on 5 April in Auckland. Entries must be in before 3 March, 2008. (Click here for further competition details.) 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 and the New Zealand Police. For further information click here (Word) or for an entry form click here. To link to the NZDAP Baha'i Community project page please click here. To find out more about the Baha'i Faith click here www.bahai.org.nz.
Auckland Interfaith Council 2008 Seminar Series
The Auckland Inter-Faith Council kicks off its new season of seminars for 2008 on Sunday, February 17 at 7.30 p.m. at the LDS Church*, 147 Pah Road, Mt Roskill. The seminar series follows a common thread of applying spirituality to help solve the problems in today’s society. The first issue we will be addressing is that of violence in society. The format will include a guest “expert”, Senior Sergeant Dave Ryan from the Waitemata Police District who works in the area of family violence. Mr Ryan will give a 10 minute introduction to the topic, following which there will be brief perspectives from members of four faith communities (this time it will be Christian Science, Islam, Presbyterianism and the Baha'i Faith). The chair for the event will be a leading member of the Sikh community. An opportunity for comments and questions from the floor will be provided. The aim of the event is to learn about the perspectives of those from other faith traditions and to identify any threads that could assist in addressing the problem of violence in our society.
All are welcome to attend. Please circulate this invitation widely. There is no charge, and a light supper will be provided following the seminar.
The Value of a Secular Society
The Reverend Clay Nelson from St Matthew-in-the-City will be speaking at Rationalist House, 64 Symonds Street, Auckland City on "The Value of a Secular Society" on Sunday 17th February at 2.00pm. Public lecture, all welcome. Enquiries: phone: (09) 373 5131 email firstname.lastname@example.org
Faith, Nationalism and Identity: Reflections on Contemporary Islam
The New Zealand Institute of International Affairs and Victoria University of Wellington are hosting a lecture by Tariq Ramadan, Professor of Islamic Studies, currently Senior Research Fellow St Antony’s College (Oxford). It will be held on Thursday 28 February at 5.30pm in Lecture Theatre 1, Rutherford House, Victoria University of Wellington, Bunny Street, Wellington. Email email@example.com with ‘Ramadan’ in the subject line (acceptances only) or contact the Information Desk on 04-463 5283 to register your interest in attending.
Professor Ramadan is a Visiting Professor (holding the chair: Identity and Citizenship) at Erasmus University (Netherlands). He has contributed substantially to the debate on the issues of Muslims in the West and Islamic revival in the Muslim world. He is active at the academic and grassroots levels on social justice and dialogue between civilizations.
Building Bridges Dialogue Forum
The NZ Muslim: Opportunities and Challenges
Professor Tariq Ramadan will also deliver an address at the Building Bridges forum on Saturday 1 March in Auckland. Building Bridges is a programme coordinated by the Office of Ethnic Affairs (OEA) which focuses on integration, public awareness and dialogue relating to the Muslim community. Several initiatives have been undertaken by OEA in partnership with the Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand as part of the Building Bridges project.
History of Human Civilisation
A course on the history of civilisation from an Islamic perspective has started. The program includes detailed notes, visual presentation including videos and time for lively discussions. Every Saturday, 6:45 PM 9 Feb - 6 Dec 08 Upper Riccarton Library, 71 Main South Rd, Sockburn, $7 per class . For more information, or to register, visit http://www.nawawicenter.org/projects.php?proj=HOH01
Did You Know?
Affirmation to open council meetings
The Hurunui District Council has voted to do away with its prayer at the start of meetings. Council meetings always began with the CEO reading out the following prayer:
We ask you to bless those present and grant through our discussions and decisions we may solve our problems effectively, and act with integrity
and courage to enhance the well being of our district.
Councillors voted 5-4 to do away with the prayer and replace it with a non-religious affirmation, followed by a period of silence for prayer or reflection by councillors. The decision followed a complaint by Cr Russell Black in October to the Human Rights Commission. He said he would withdraw his complaint to the Human Rights Commission if a "tolerant and respectful" solution could be found. Black said he had tolerated the prayer for several years out of respect but had felt uncomfortable. "We swear an oath at the start of our term and abide by it. We do not need to reinforce it monthly," he said.
Cr Judy Meikle said she could "live with a pledge", but it would be with regret. Cr Andrew Smart said he was saddened at the time taken to resolve the issue when there were pressing needs for district residents such as the drought. He sought a change of wording in the prayer but said he would support an affirmation. Cr Michael Malthus said he was a religious man but could live with an affirmation, provided there was a period of silence for him to give thanks to "whoever". Cr Wendy Doody sought to retain the prayer.
Last year the Parliament’s Standing Orders Committee considered a petition to amend the wording of the parliamentary prayer. The petition asked that the House continue to open its sittings with a prayer, but with amended wording so that it would no longer be specifically Christian. Seventy- four members or 84 percent of respondents said that the prayer should continue to be recited at the beginning of each sitting.
For more information about ‘Te Korowai Whakapono: NZ Interfaith Network’, please contact Rohan Jaduram at firstname.lastname@example.org or 09 375 8640.
The views contained in this newsletter do not necessarily represent the position of the Human Rights Commission.