The Religious Diversity Centre in Aotearoa New Zealand
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.
To foster appreciation, understanding and deeper relationships among the religious, spiritual and secular communities in Aotearoa New Zealand, and provide an independent and informed voice on religious and spiritual issues in the public sphere.
The Trust, through its Programmes, Procedures & Governance, is:
- Treaty-based: Te Tiriti o Waitangi is foundational,
- multireligious, multispiritual and multicultural: providing a secure space for the consideration and expression of multiple belief perspectives,
- autonomous: providing an independent voice on religious and spiritual issues in the public sphere,
- credible: using evidence-based research to provide reliable information and analysis,
- consultative: ensuring our research includes attentive consultation,
- cooperative: engaging in respectful collaboration and developing robust networking,
- encouraging of: both inter-religious and intra-religious dialogue,
- observant of: the common ethical and moral principles of the faith and belief communities of Aotearoa New Zealand,
- guided by: the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and
- cognisant of: the Statement on Religious Diversity, produced by the Human Rights Commission and Victoria University of Wellington for the New Zealand Diversity Action Programme.
The Religious Diversity Centre provides:
- training and professional development for those working in a multicultural and multireligious environment,
- classes on religious diversity and raising awareness of religious literacy,
- seminars, symposia and workshops,
- a regular speaker series and public events,
- visits to religious communities,
- high quality research and educational resources on diversity,
- advice and direction for appropriate educational engagement,
- timely and accurate media responses to issues of religious diversity,
- expert advice to policy-makers, legislators, media and other interested parties,
- opportunities to value the traditional arts and other creative expressions in the religions.
The Initial Trust Board:
The Trustees on the initial Religious Diversity Trust Board have wide professional and academic experience working with religious diversity at home and abroad. They were selected at a national event ‘To Gather the Vision’ held in Auckland early in 2015. This event involved members of the Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, and Sikh religions in order to begin the work of establishing a national trust with an operating Religious Diversity Centre. The Trustees who undertook to establish the Centre are:
• Jocelyn Armstrong, Chair, Religious Diversity Trust; multifaith educator
• Dr Kevin Clements, Director, Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, Otago University
• Dr Jenny Te Pā Daniel, Public Theologian, Educational consultant
• Professor Paul Morris, Religious Studies, Victoria University of Wellington
• Professor Douglas Pratt, Studies in Religion, University of Waikato
• Aarif Rasheed, Barrister, Mediator, Just Community
• Verpal Singh, Chair, Sikh Centre, Broadcaster, Researcher, Writer
• Dr Nicholas Thompson, Senior Lecturer, Theology, Auckland University
• Ricky Waters, Coordinator of multifaith chaplaincies at Unitec, Manukau Institutes of Technology and Massey University
The Religious Diversity Centre currently has offices in the Auckland CBD (385 Queen Street) and at the University of Waikato in Hamilton (K2.19). Dr Todd Nachowitz (a lecturer in Religious Studies at the University of Waikato, an early member of the Board of Trustees, and an active member of the Waikato Interfaith Council) has been contracted as the Centre Coordinator. A formal appointment of Director for the Religious Diversity Centre, with support staff, will be made in the months ahead once the Centre secures long-term funding. Community consultations with representatives from the wide array of organisations and associations are currently underway. Domestic and international links with similar professional organisations and associations have been made.
The Religious Diversity Centre Trust has recently established three operational committees to oversee the work of the Centre and the Trust. These are a Centre Management Committee, a Programme Development Committee, and a Funding Committee. It is envisioned that additional input will be needed for 1) developing and implementing future educational programmes and seminars that the Centre may wish to implement, and 2) developing our research strategies and future research capabilities. We plan to establish an Advisory Board for community consultation with the appropriate belief communities, and plan to seek additional members for future subcommittees (e.g. Media, Research). Stay tuned!
The Religious Diversity Centre in Aotearoa New Zealand Trust is a registered charitable trust (Registration Number CC52791). Tax deductible donations are most welcome. Deposits can be made through direct bank transfer to the RDC’s Kiwibank account 038-9017-0433364-00, citing your name or organisation as reference. If a tax receipt is required please email advice of your donation to <firstname.lastname@example.org> and a receipt will be issued. Your donations help support the Centre’s ongoing work and ensure its long-term future.