BISHOP BRIAN TAMAKI
16 March 2007
New Zealand’s Christian Heritage in Jeopardy
Asia Pacific Interfaith Forum, Tues 29 May, Waitangi
Bishop Brian Tamaki says the Prime Minister’s intention to declare New Zealand a secular nation at an Asia Pacific
Inter-Religious Forum at Waitangi should be of major concern to New Zealand’s majority Christian population.
The declaration comes in the form of a National Statement on Religious Diversity that says New Zealand has no
established or official religion.
“Many of the countries attending the inter-religious forum have majority Muslim or Buddhist populations. I endorse
freedom of religious choice. But I am very concerned at the message our Prime Minister is sending abroad when she says
New Zealand is religiously neutral,” says Tamaki.
Countries being hosted by the Prime Minister at Waitangi’s forum include:
- Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim-majority nation
- Malaysia, of which 60.4% of the population practice Islam
- Brunei, of which 66% of the population practice Islam
- Thailand, 94% Buddhist
- Myanmar, almost 90% Buddhist
- Vietnam, 70% Buddhist
- Cambodia, 90% Buddhist
- Laos, majority Buddhist
“New Zealand has a significant Christian heritage that has played a major role in shaping our national identity. From
the bible in our courts, prayer in parliament to our National Anthem, Christian elements are laced throughout our
judicial, political and social arrangements. In fact, 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,” says Tamaki.
To that end, a peaceful rally is being organised to coincide with the Prime Minister’s Asia Pacific Inter-religious
Forum on Tuesday 29th May at Waitangi to uphold New Zealand’s Christian heritage. Event details can be viewed on
“This is not about imposing Christianity on society but I believe it is very important that we protect our Christian
heritage so future generations can enjoy the family values, benefits and freedoms Christianity affords,” Tamaki added.