Human Rights Commission
26 March, 2009
Police launch religious diversity guide
A new edition of the New Zealand Police’s ‘A Practical Reference to Religious Diversity’ was launched today by Police
Commissioner Howard Broad and Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres at an event to mark Race Relations Day at Police
National Headquarters, in Wellington.
The new edition of the guide contains updated material on various faiths and religious practices in New Zealand and is
designed to assist police in working with diverse religious communities. It also includes the national Statement on
Religious Diversity, which sets out some basic human rights principles about religious diversity.
Mr de Bres said New Zealand participants in the Asia Pacific Interfaith Dialogue in Cambodia last year had specifically
commended the police guide and recommended that a similar guide be provided to other government department staff.
“While we live in a secular state in New Zealand, this does not mean public servants should be ignorant about the
beliefs of the communities they serve. To deliver public services effectively, public servants need to understand their
clients and gain their confidence.”
The guide has been used for police training. Feedback from communities has been favourable, viewing this as part of the
police’s commitment to understanding more about religious diversity and its impact on policing.
Mr de Bres noted that the police had, in the past year, made changes to their uniform code to accommodate Sikh headwear
for Sikh police officers, and community responses had been positive. He welcomed the police’s sponsorship of this
month’s secondary schools race relations speech competitions, in conjunction with the Human Rights Commission and the
Baha’i community, as well as the ethnic football tournaments, and the establishment of a Police Equality and Diversity
Network at National Headquarters. “The Human Rights Commission is committed to working closely with the police on
matters of cultural and religious diversity and particularly on addressing hate crimes against members of cultural and
religious minorities, including harassment, assault and damage to property.”
The religious diversity guide will be available as a download from the NZ Police website: www.police.govt.nz.