In 2013 the New Zealand Buddhist Council and Amitabha Hospice started training well-vetted applicants to become Buddhist Chaplains. By 2018, after four Level 1 courses, over 30 trainees had completed a Level 1 workshop on Hospice / Hospital Chaplaincy.
On 6, 7, 8 March 2020, twelve “Apprentice Buddhist Chaplains” (or ABCs) from around the country who had completed their Level 1 training and the required supervised experience and written documentation attended the Level 2 training. It covered Tertiary Chaplaincy and Prison Chaplaincy and there were eleven presenters. Among them, was Ricky Waters, the Chaplain of three Auckland Tertiary institutions, Richard Ward, the Chaplain of Mt Eden Prison and Auckland Regional Manager for Prison Chaplaincy Services of Aotearoa New Zealand, William Hursthouse, a Buddhist and Mediator who talked about Dispute Resolution, Dr. Heather Kempton, a Buddhist Psychologist and Senior Lecturer at Massey University, who lectured about suicide awareness and two Buddhist volunteers, Mallika Krishnamurthy, NZ Coordinator for Liberation Prison Project and Katie O’Connor, a counsellor who spoke about their experiences visiting prisoners in Auckland and South Island prisons.
The training programme was organised by Ecie Hursthouse, Managing Director of Amitabha Hospice and Vice-Chairperson of NZBC. Ven. Amala-sensei and Ecie are the Supervisors of the Level 1 ABCs. Ven. Amala-sensei will also be one of the supervisors of those ABCs who pursue Tertiary or Prison Chaplaincy. To qualify as NZ Buddhist Tertiary Chaplains or Buddhist Prison Chaplains, they are required to do a number of hours of supervised experience in either a Tertiary organisation or a Prison and the written documentation.
The ABCs who completed the Level 1 course and the requirements of supervised experience and written documentation received certificates that they are now qualified to work as Buddhist Chaplains in hospices, hospitals or nursing homes in NZ. The NZBC and Amitabha Hospice has complete confidence that these NZ Buddhist Hospice / Healthcare Chaplains can be employed to facilitate mental comfort by helping the person use their own beliefs to investigate their concerns and gain strength and resilience in the midst of a health crisis.