Race Relations Commissioner, Dame Susan Devoy, of the New Zealand Human Rights Commission invites you to participate in the consultation process to review the New Zealand National Statement on Religious Diversity.
The Statement on Religious Diversity was first published in 2007 and has since been endorsed by a wide range of faith communities. It provides a basis for ongoing discussion of religious diversity in New Zealand.
New Zealand Human Rights Commission and Victoria University of Wellington initiated the process in 2005. The statement that has been shaped through consultations offers a framework for religious rights in New Zealand and for harmonious relations between religious communities in New Zealand.
Internationally the Statement is a unique document that has engendered interest around the world and has been used as a model and formally referenced in public debates on religious diversity in Australia, South Africa and the US.
It sets out a number of principles which are grounded in international human rights treaties and the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act, including:
- freedom of religion, conscience, and belief
- freedom of expression
- the right to safety and security
- the right to reasonable accommodation of diverse religious practices in various settings.
The statement also emphasises that the State seeks to treat all faith communities and those who profess no religion equally before the law, and that New Zealand has no official or established religion.
It encourages education about our diverse religious and spiritual traditions, respectful dialogue, and positive relationships between government and faith communities.
It also offers a framework within which religious issues can be discussed both by faith communities themselves and within the wider New Zealand community.
Eight years after the initial consultation, the Human Rights Commission is planning to review it again to ensure that it reflects our changing religious demography. The review will include a consultation process with a wide range of religious communities comprising some more recent religious groups to our shores, and also humanist and rationalist organisations and other interested groups.
You are invited to familiarise yourselves with the content (see this website) and to provide any feedback to Paul Morris (Professor of Religious Studies at Victoria University of Wellington and UNESCO Chair in Interreligious Understanding and Relations). Paul is working with Dame Susan Devoy’s advisor Rakesh Naidoo, to coordinate the consultation process.