The members of Hindu Council of New Zealand, Wellington Chapter, were among a group of representatives from diverse communities attending an event in Parliament on the promotion of religious diversity and social inclusion in NZ.
The Human Rights Commission and the Religious Diversity Centre had organised a lunch event at the Parliament on Wednesday, March 28, to discuss why it was important to promote social inclusion in NZ.
The event was hosted by Member of Parliament, Adrian Rurawhe MP (Assistant Speaker) and included a Keynote address by Dr Maureen Sier, Director, Interfaith Scotland, titled Protecting Religious Freedom and Diversity: The Role of Government and Interfaith Organisations in Promoting Social Inclusion.
The topic of the keynote address set the tone of the event on why the role of government was critical in promoting religious tolerance and social inclusion in modern societies.
Dr Sier discussed her role as Director of Interfaith Scotland and addressed the advantages of continued government support for issues of religious diversity and the potential benefits for Aotearoa New Zealand in terms of increasing social inclusion.
The Scottish government has been funding Interfaith Scotland to engage in dialogue, educational activities, civic engagement and the promotion of religious equality. Interfaith Scotland’s work is based on the four pillars of their nation namely - integrity, wisdom, justice and compassion
Jocelyn Armstrong, the Trust Board Chair of the Religious Diversity Centre called upon the politicians, policymakers and the community leaders to have constructive engagement and dialogues in formulating inclusive legislation and policies to reflect the religious diversity of New Zealand's changing demography.
The Religious Diversity Centre is a national centre of educational and research excellence fostering an appreciation for and understanding of religious diversity amongst all New Zealanders.
Dame Susan Devoy, Race Relations Commissioner, offered closing remarks and words of thanks.
Ms Devoy reiterated that the voices of every religious community should be heard for the promotion of religious equality and the social cohesion of the diverse Aotearoa.
It was widely agreed among the speakers and guests that there must be education about religion in New Zealand, and the Religious Diversity Centre can play a key role in this space.
It is important to note that recently a Kiwi-Indian, and a prominent member of Wellington Chapter of Hindu Council of NZ, Selva Ramasami, has been appointed as a Board of Trustees of the Religious Diversity Centre.
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