Local people boosting global connections

Saturday 28 November 2009, 8:52AM
By Pansy Wong

Ethnic Affairs Minister Pansy Wong looks forward to welcoming the international delegates of the 14th General Assembly of the Regional Islamic Da'wah Council of Southeast Asia and the Pacific (RISEAP).

Auckland is currently playing host to the conference, which has seen more than 60 delegates from 22 countries come together to discuss issues relating to Muslims in the Asia-Pacific region.

Co-hosted by the Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand (FIANZ), the conference will see delegates talk about ways to better relationships between Muslims and non-Muslims, promote peace and establish a charitable trust to distribute funds to people in need in the region.

"This General Assembly is a chance for New Zealand Muslims to provide a glimpse into the social harmony that exists in our country and discuss ways to ensure interfaith and intra-faith harmony exists in Asia Pacific," Mrs Wong says.

"Many countries are interested in New Zealand's multi-ethnic and multi-faith model of social harmony and the way that all our citizens are able to stay true to their religious or cultural beliefs while contributing to all aspects of our society.

"Our Muslim communities have successfully set up businesses and have expanded our country's export earnings.

"For example, the Halal market has grown to be worth more than $250 million a year to New Zealand as a result of the hard work of many from within our Islamic communities, who promoted our meat and dairy products as being high quality and set up the certification process to ensure that we are a part of the global Halal market, which is estimated to be worth $2 trillion."