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Welcome to our Christian Country!

BISHOP BRIAN TAMAKI

PRESS STATEMENT FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

22 May 2007

Welcome to our Christian Country!

Asia Pacific Interfaith Forum, Tues 29 May, Waitangi

Next Tuesday at Waitangi (29 May) Prime Minister Helen Clark will officiate an Asia Pacific Inter-religious Forum that will conclude with a Waitangi Declaration that pronounces New Zealand to be religiously neutral.

Countries in attendance include Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim-majority nation, Malaysia (60.4% practicing Islam), Brunei (66% practicing Islam), Thailand (94% Buddhist), Myanmar (almost 90% Buddhist), Vietnam (70% Buddhist), Cambodia (90% Buddhist) and Laos, which is a majority Buddhist nation.

Bishop Brian Tamaki says foreign delegates attending next week's Forum at Waitangi should be welcomed on the basis that they understand New Zealand's significant Christian heritage.

"I endorse freedom of religious choice. But it is not necessary to deny our Christian heritage to host, cohabitate or fully function alongside those of different religious persuasions. Nor should we feel obliged to appease those who hold different religious views by minimising our faith. How can these values be passed on to the next generation if they cannot be openly advocated without fear of causing offence," says Tamaki.

To that end, a peaceful rally is being organised to coincide with next Tuesday's Forum to uphold New Zealand's Christian heritage. Event details can be viewed on www.christiannation.org.nz . Participants are being asked to assemble at the Ngapuhi grounds just south of Waitangi bridge by 12pm midday.

"Christianity affirms the freedoms our Prime Minister is attempting to espouse in terms of religious diversity. However, she should be secure enough to make it very clear to foreign delegates that New Zealand has an established Christian religion. After all, many of these attending nations are fully secure in their religious identity!" Tamaki added.

ENDS


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