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The Quest for Respect and Equality in NZ

Honouring the Other: The Quest for Respect and Equality in Aotearoa New Zealand

Until we find ways of developing harmonious relationships across race, gender and class, the prospects for long-term peace in New Zealand are slim, argues Kevin Clements in the 2010 Quaker Lecture.

Although in many ways New Zealand is a well-functioning society, there are significant tensions, inequities and injustices, and on indicators such as the rate of imprisonment we are doing badly.

Drawing on the work of three notable thinkers – Martin Buber, Albert Schweitzer and Emmanuel Levinas – the lecture shows how changes in the way we relate to others can ease tension and resentment between individuals and cultures.

The key to equality is mutual respect, but how is this to be achieved? Because increasing numbers of people are not motivated by political or religious ideology, the lecture argues that we need to develop an ethical justification for care, respect, responsibility and altruism.

Kevin Clements gives particular attention to the relationship between Maori and Pakeha, in both directions. “Who we choose to see and attend to are profoundly political acts. Very often Pakeha do not see and attend to Maori with reverence and respect. Many Maori in turn feel contempt for Pakeha,” he says. “We need to learn how to honour the other. We, i.e. Maori and Pakeha, need to work out how to develop a common vision of the future which provides space for all New Zealanders to realise their full potential.

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“If this ethic is accepted it could provide a new impetus to movements for justice, equity and peace in Aotearoa New Zealand.”

Professor Kevin Clements is the foundation Chair of Peace and Conflict Studies and Director of the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Otago. He is also Secretary General of the International Peace Research Association. Kevin has been Secretary General of International Alert and Director of the Quaker United nations Office in Geneva, as well as a consultant to various non-governmental and intergovernmental organisations on disarmament, arms control, conflict resolution development and regional security issues. Kevin is a member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).

The 2010 Quaker lecture will be given on Sunday 11 July at 7.30pm in the Archway 2 Lecture Theatre, University of Otago


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