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Conversations that lead to coexistence

Human Rights Commission

10 February 2006

Conversations that lead to coexistence

The positive outcome to this week's heated national debate over the publication of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed shows the practical value of different groups talking with each other, said Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres.

Speaking tonight at the launch of the Coexistence Exhibition at Auckland's Britomart, Mr de Bres will stress the importance of conversations as the starting point for understanding and respect.

"Earlier this week the Human Rights Commission convened a meeting between religious leaders and media executives to discuss the issues that arose from publishing the cartoons.

"The meeting was an opportunity for people from very diverse backgrounds to listen to each other, find common ground and develop practical and constructive solutions.

"It was a clear demonstration of what co-existence means in New Zealand today," said Mr de Bres.

The Coexistence Exhibition, hosted by Auckland's Heart of the City downtown business community, is a powerful collection of 45 large-scale posters, featuring images created by artists from around the world.

Each poster is accompanied by text panels with quotes from leading thinkers, philosophers, writers, and artists.

"The Human Rights Commission congratulates Heart of Auckland City on bringing this exhibition to Auckland," Mr de Bres said.

"We acknowledge the city businesses that make up its membership and also the other sponsors of the event: Auckland City, Bluewater and Britomart.

"Diversity enriches a city socially, culturally and economically. It is good for business and for the community. Exhibitions like this start a conversation around the importance of treating each other respectfully and valuing our different languages, cultures and beliefs."

The Coexistence Exhibition is one of many events being held around New Zealand to celebrate diversity in the lead-up to Race Relations Day 2006 on 21 March.

Heart of Auckland City is a partner in the New Zealand Diversity Action Programme and the Coexistence exhibition is registered with the programme as Heart of the City's contribution

ENDS

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