The Initial Trustees of the Religious Diversity Centre Trust are:

Jocelyn Armstrong, Chair, Religious Diversity Trust; multifaith educator

Jocelyn Armstrong, a Christian laywoman, has had a long and varied involvement in the Anglican Church. She has taken leadership in the ecumenical and the interfaith movements at national, regional (Asia) and international levels. On retirement from teaching Religious Studies at secondary school level, she authored the textbook ‘Discovering Diversity’, a resource for the Social Studies curriculum that introduces the students to religion and the world religions. She is the current vice president of the Auckland Interfaith Council and is the Chair of the Religious Diversity Centre Trust.


Dr Kevin Clements, Director, Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, Otago University

Professor Clements is the Foundation Chair of Peace and Conflict Studies and Director of the New Zealand National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (NCPACS) at the University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand, and Secretary General of the International Peace Research Association. Prior to taking up these positions he was the Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies and Foundation Director of the Australian Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia. His career has been a combination of academic analysis and practice in the areas of peacebuilding and conflict transformation.

Professor Clements has been a regular consultant to a variety of non-governmental and intergovernmental organisations on disarmament, arms control, conflict resolution, development and regional security issues. He has written or edited 7 books and over 150 chapters /articles on conflict transformation, peacebuilding, preventive diplomacy and development with a specific focus on the Asia Pacific region.


Dr Jenny Te Pā Daniel, Public Theologian, Educational consultant

photo coming soon

Former Ahorangi (Dean) of Te Rau Kahikatea, St Johns College, Auckland; Educational Consultant, internationally experienced lay Anglican leader in ecumenical theological education, peace and justice activism, advocacy for women’s rights and the human rights of LGTB people.


Professor Paul Morris, Religious Studies, Victoria University of Wellington

Paul Morris is a specialist scholar in the field of contemporary world religions. He teaches an introductory paper, What is religion? Identity, Experience and Practice, and papers on Judaism; death; arguing about religion; and a new course, Evil and Salvation, exploring notions of sin, redemption, good and evil in different religious traditions and in the modern non-religious modern. His publications explore Jewish religious thought, religious change in the Pacific; religious diversity, religion in New Zealand, religion and politics in the contemporary world, and religion and cosmopolitanism.

Paul studied Religious Studies at Victoria University of Wellington under Professor Lloyd Geering, and at Lancaster University where he completed a PhD supervised by Professor Ninian Smart. He taught at Lancaster during the 1980s and has held visiting positions, including Visiting Professor of Religious Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara; Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Jewish-Christian Relations, Birmingham; Visiting Professor of Humanities, University of Queensland; and Visiting Professor of Religion, Boston University. Professor Morris is a member of the Executive Committee of the International Association for the History of Religions, and on the editorial/advisory boards of Numen, Journal of Beliefs and Values, Journal of Implicit Religion, Journal of Indo-Judaic Studies and the Numen Brill Studies in Religion series.


Professor Douglas Pratt, Studies in Religion, University of Waikato

Professor Pratt holds appointments as Adjunct Professor (Theology & Interreligious Studies) at the University of Bern, Switzerland, and Adjunct Associate Professor (Research) in the School of Social Sciences at Monash University, Australia. A former President of the Australian Association for the Study of Religion (AASR) and the New Zealand Association for the Study of Religions (NZASR), Professor Pratt is the New Zealand Associate of the Australian-based UNESCO Chair in Intercultural and Interreligious Relations – Asia Pacific. He is also an Associate of the Centre for the Study of Religion and Politics (CSRP) at the University of St Andrews, Scotland.

Professor Pratt was Visiting Professor in the Faculty of Theology at the University of Bern, Switzerland, for the Spring semester (February–June) 2011 and previously, during the Spring semester of 2010 (January–May), he was in the United States as a Visiting Fulbright Scholar at the Center for Australian and New Zealand Studies, where he taught a course on religious extremism in the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University, Washington, DC. He has undertaken research and has taught at other major overseas universities including a term in 2004 as Visiting Lecturer in Christian–Muslim Relations at the University of Birmingham, UK and, for the academic year 2005-06, Honorary Research Fellow at Ripon College Cuddesdon, Oxford, and guest lecturer for the Faculty of Theology at the University of Oxford. He has taught at the University of Heidelberg, Germany, and has been a visiting scholar at the International Islamic University, Malaysia, and the Pontifical Institute for the Study of Arabic and Islam, Rome. He has also previously taught in an honorary or visiting capacity for the theology programme of the University of Auckland.

Professor Pratt is a regular visitor to Australia presenting at conferences and seminars and giving guest lectures. With his links to the Global Terrorism Research Centre (GTReC) and the Centre for Islam in the Modern World at Monash University, he has been a consultant on religious fundamentalism and extremism to the Australian Federal Government and a guest presenter to the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and FBI Leadership in Counter-Terrorism – Pacific program.

Doug’s areas of expertise are: Christianity, Islam, Christian-Muslim relations and dialogue, religious fundamentalism, religion and terrorism, religious diversity and interfaith engagement.


Aarif Rasheed, Barrister, Mediator, Just Community

Law: Aarif Rasheed has a science and law background and practices as a community lawyer with an focus on dispute Resolution and social justice. He is an arbitrator and mediator, and previously sat as a Disputes Tribunal adjudicator in the courts. His legal interests include criminalization of the underprivileged, rehabilitation and therapeutic justice, including restorative justice. He presently works on resolving a range of individual and community legal issues.

Faith: Aarif has been the co-President of the Council of Christians & Muslims for numerous terms since its formation in 1996. In 2010 he launched the Charter for Compassion in New Zealand in partnership with New Zealand Jewish organisations. Aarif sees practical civic collaboration amongst major religions as critical for building a genuinely healthy inclusive society. Aarif also has a particular interest in eastern religions and their spiritual traditions, and their comparison with the spiritual Islamic science of Sufism. Aarif has been a cultural trainer for practitioners in various fields on dealing with Muslim clients. He provides introductory lectures on the practice of the Islamic faith in New Zealand and assists academics and others in providing normative information on the Islamic religion as understood by its adherents throughout its intellectual tradition and history.

Aarif has recently returned to Auckland from Warkworth with his wife and two sons. He is a second generation New Zealander of Indo-Fijian descent. He cherishes the therapeutic features of the New Zealand outdoors and gets out with his boys as much as possible.


Bhai Verpal Singh, Chair, Sikh Centre, Broadcaster, Researcher, Writer

Verpal Singh is the Founder Chairman of the New Zealand Sikh Centre, a not-for-profit organisation engaged in promoting greater interaction between Sikhs and the wider New Zealand community. He is a writer and publisher. Through the Sikh Centre, he has been involved in running annual competitions in the field of Painting, Short Story Writing, and traditional Punjabi embroidery art of Phulkari. He is an active participant in ongoing interfaith dialogue in New Zealand, and a keen student of history, especially religious history.


Dr Nicholas Thompson, Senior Lecturer, Theology, Auckland University

Nicholas is currently a Senior Lecturer in Theology in the Faculty of Arts at Auckland University. From 2001-2009, he was a Lecturer in Church History at the School of Divinity at the University of Aberdeen, UK. Nicholas’ current research interests include: the thought of the Strasbourg reformer Martin Bucer (1491-1551), Religious irenicism and tolerance in the Early Modern era,
Religious coexistence and sectarianism in 19th century New Zealand and the British Empire, The Reformations in Scotland, France and Rhineland Germany, and Christian pilgrimage – especially the routes to Santiago de Compostela.


Ricky Waters, Coordinator of multifaith chaplaincies at Unitec, Manukau Institutes of Technology and Massey University

bio and photo coming soon


Dr Zain Imtiaz Ali, Islamic Studies Research Unit,  University of Auckland

bio coming soon


NOTE: The ‘Initial Trustees’ have been instrumental in the launch of the Religious Diversity Centre Trust.  As we move into an operational phase in 2017, the Religious Diversity Centre will include additional representatives from the diversity of faith and belief groups within Aotearoa New Zealand.  This includes all of the major world faiths as well as the belief groups of a secular New Zealand.  If you are interested in representing your faith or belief group on any of a number of consultative panels or working groups we plan to establish as we move forward, please contact us!