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Interfaith forum applauds Police support

Human Rights Commission
Media release
11 March, 2008

Interfaith forum applauds Police support for speech award

The National Interfaith Forum being held in Wellington this week has applauded the decision by the Police to sponsor the annual secondary schools Race Unity competition for the next five years.

The speech competition has been organised since 1999 by the Baha’i community in association with the Human Rights Commission. The regional heats are conducted throughout March as part of Race Relations Day activities. The topic is the Race Relations Day theme of “Finding Common Ground”.

From small beginnings the competition has spread to 14 regions with the finals to be held in Auckland on 5 April. Last year’s winner was Bridget Scanlan from Sacred Heart College in Lower Hutt.

Forum Chairperson Dr Pushpa Wood said that members of all faiths represented at the forum welcomed the partnership and other initiatives by the Police to enhance intercultural and interfaith understanding. In particular the forum supported the Police ethnic responsiveness strategy, the Police handbook on religious diversity, and recruitment of staff of all faiths and ethnicities.

Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres welcomed the Police support. “The speech competition produces some wonderful contributions from secondary school students on the subject of diversity. Last year’s winner was invited to speak to the New Zealand Diversity Forum in Auckland. Her speech was very moving, and for many delegates it was the highlight of the conference.”

This year’s national interfaith forum was preceded by the first ever national youth interfaith forum and a national women’s interfaith forum last weekend. Youth forum delegates presented their decisions to the Governor General, Hon Anand Satyanand, who was a keynote speaker at the forum.

The delegates endorsed the New Zealand Statement on Religious Diversity, offered support for activities marking the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights this year and agreed to develop a
national youth interfaith network.
ends

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