At our March 2018 AGM, the Religious Diversity Trust approved the addition of two new Trust Board members representing both the Hindu and Buddhist communities. The full Board of Trustees of the Religious Diversity Centre Trust are:
• Jocelyn Armstrong, Co-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 Jenny Te Pā Daniel, Co-Chair, Religious Diversity Trust; Public Theologian; Educational consultant
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, Professor Emeritus of 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 movement. 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 Edwina Pio, University Director of Diversity, Auckland University of Technology (AUT)
Edwina is University Director of Diversity at the Auckland University of Technology, in a position annexed to her substantive role as professor in the Faculty of Business, Economics and Law and leader of the research group Immigration & Inclusion. She is New Zealand’s first Professor of Diversity, a Fulbright alumna, recipient of a Duke of Edinburgh fellowship and widely published in top ranking journals such as British Journal of Management, Journal of Business Ethics, Gender Work & Organization, Asia Pacific Journal of Management, Academy of Management Learning & Education and Journal of Management Inquiry. Her accolades include Visiting Professor at Boston College, USA; research fellowship at Jonkoping International Business School, Sweden; Visiting Academic at Cambridge University, UK; Fellow of the New Zealand India Research Institute, New Zealand and Co-Director of the Global Centre for Equality and Human Rights, UK. Edwina is a thoughtful leader and knowledgeable interpreter in the area of diversity in business, communities and education and her passion for interdisciplinary scholarship encompass the intersections of work, ethnicity, religion and pedagogy. In 2008 her book Sari: Indian women at work in New Zealand was released by Rt. Hon. John Key, former Prime Minister of New Zealand. In 2010 her book Longing & Belonging was released at Te Papa Wellington on Race Relations Day by the Office of Ethnic Communities and the Human Rights Commission. In 2014 her book Work & Worship was released by the Race Relations Commissioner. Picking up difficult contemporary issues, and unravelling them in a way that is palatable for an eclectic audience, Edwina believes and acts with an innate sense of social justice, and a desire to live in harmony and in-tune with the universe.
• Selva Ramasami, Wellington Hindu Community
Selva Ramasami is a grass roots community volunteer in the Wellington region. He has been associated with several organisations promoting dharma, culture and language. His interest in interfaith activities allowed him the opportunity to be a New Zealand delegate to the 6th Asia-Pacific Regional Interfaith Dialogue in Semarang, Indonesia in 2012. Selva brings his legal, policy and finance experience to his community work particularly for the Wellington Hindu Community. Through his engagement with the diverse religious and cultural communities, Selva understands the challenges for social cohesion. He has been regularly called upon to contribute to discussions on the challenges and opportunities for enhancing the social cohesion and well-being of the diverse communities in Aotearoa.
• 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.
• Ricky Waters, Coordinator of multifaith chaplaincies at Unitec, Manukau Institutes of Technology and Massey University
Ricky was born and raised in Wanganui, where he worked and then later trained as a Primary Teacher. He then taught in Te Anau, Darfield, and Franz Joseph Glacier. Ricky also worked with the Tertiary Students Christian Fellowship (TSCF) facilitating Christian groups on campuses in Palmerston North and Wellington, training in personal & spiritual development and leadership. He subsequently served for three years as National Youth Officer for the Bible Society in NZ, and then worked in Fiji for six years developing Pacific Students for Christ (PSFC) on the Tertiary campuses in Fiji, Vanuatu, Solomons, Tonga, Western Samoa. In 1996, his family returned to New Zealand and Ricky worked as Regional Team Leader for TSCF in Auckland overseeing and training the Staff Team and working with students.
Currently Ricky is employed as the coordinating Chaplain at Manukau Institute of Technology, UNITEC Institute of Technology and Massey University. He is actively involved in the Presbyterian Church, interfaith dialogue, spiritual direction, tutoring in Maths, and parenting in his spare time. He enjoys reading, gardening, house maintenance, preaching, and encouraging. Ricky also currently serves as the RDC Trust Treasurer.
• Venerable Amala Wrightson, Sensei , Spiritual Director of the Auckland Zen Centre, and Chair of the New Zealand Buddhist Council
Amala Wrightson was born in Auckland in 1958, and grew up regularly attending St Paul’s Anglican Church. At the same time she was the only non-Catholic child at her kindergarten and primary school, St Joseph’s of Cluny. This gave her an early sense that there was more than one way to practice religion. Through the 1980s she went to Auckland University part-time and worked in various experimental music and theatre groups (The Plague, Humanimals, Inside Information) with her husband Richard von Sturmer. In 1989, shortly after completing an M.A. in Italian, she began Zen training at the Rochester Zen Center, in upstate New York. She was ordained a Zen priest in 1999, and from 1996 to 2003 she was the Center’s Head of Zendo ( in charge of training) working closely with her teacher Roshi Bodhin Kjolhede. In late 2003 Amala returned to resettle in New Zealand and founded the Auckland Zen Centre with her husband Richard. Since then she has dedicated her time to offering authentic Zen practice and training in Auckland. She was given formal permission to teach by Roshi Kjolhede in 2004, and was sanctioned as a full Dharma heir in 2012. She continues to spend some time each year at the Rochester Zen Center and is a member of the American Zen Teachers’ Association (AZTA). In 2008 she co-founded the New Zealand Buddhist Council (NZBC) as a vehicle for Buddhist organisations in Aotearoa to help each other with common issues. She was part of the AUT University’s multifaith chaplaincy team for 10 years, and now helps to train Buddhist Chaplains through the NZBC’s Chaplaincy Course, in collaboration with Amitabha Hospice. She was a member of the New Zealand delegation to two Asia-Pacific Regional Interfaith Dialogue meetings, in Waitangi (2007) and Phnom Penh (2008), and has represented New Zealand at the General Assembly Meeting of the International Buddhist Confederation.
• Dr Zain Imtiaz Ali, Honorary Research Fellow, Theology & Religious Studies, University of Auckland
Dr Zain Ali is currently an honorary research fellow in Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Auckland. Dr Ali also teaches an introductory paper on Islam, entitled Islam in the Contemporary World. His areas of interest include Philosophy of Religion, Islamic Philosophy, Sufism and interfaith dialogue. He is the author of Faith, Philosophy and the Reflective Muslim. Dr Ali is a father of three and has lived in Auckland for the better part of 30 years.
• Jon Lamb, Professional Management Advisor, Managing Director, Mentor to multiple non-profit organisations
Jon worked with a multinational pharmaceutical company for an eleven-year period in South Africa, London, Australia and New Zealand. He developed and launched several brands globally. At thirty, he was the youngest CEO in the Group and reluctantly left the company after his family decided to settle permanently in New Zealand.
He then joined one of New Zealand’s largest corporate conglomerates as a Managing Director working in the agricultural industry. He was involved in major company restructures and assessing strategic relevance of new industry initiatives within the group.
He now holds directorships in both public and private companies.
• Marc Rivers, Trustee, Religious Diversity Centre; Chief Financial Officer, Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited
Marc Rivers joined Fonterra in February 2018 as the Chief Financial Officer, responsible for the Co-operative’s finances, procurement and information systems. Marc is an experienced global finance executive with strong strategic leadership capability.
Prior to joining Fonterra, Marc was the CFO at Roche Pharmaceuticals Division in Switzerland, with oversight of NZ$54 billion in sales including 14 manufacturing sites around the world. His division was responsible for product distribution for 140 countries, focussing on the innovation pipeline and customer and market development. Marc has worked in both emerging and established markets, including China, Japan, Thailand, Europe and the US. Marc has a strong track record and is known for his commitment to leading and developing his people while building diverse and inclusive teams. He has a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies and an International Master of Business Administration, Finance and German from the University of South Carolina, Columbia USA.
page last updated October 2019