News Story

New Zealanders Celebrate World Interfaith Harmony Week

"Seek common ground with our sisters and brothers across the world"

Members of several faith traditions in Dunedin came together this week to share stories and strengthen friendships.

World Interfaith Harmony Week is an initiative of the United Nations and commenced in February 2011.

The Dunedin Interfaith Council hosted a community Interfaith dinner on Thursday 7th February 2019 at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Fenton Crescent, St. Clair to commemorate the UN World Interfaith Harmony Week which falls during the first week of February each year.


2019 marks the fifth year that the event has been held in Dunedin and draws people from a wide range of ethnic and religious communities, including our migrant and refugee communities.

"This is an extraordinary opportunity for people of all ethnicities, religions, cultures, creeds and beliefs to meet over a pot-luck meal and socialise," according to local member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Max Gillies. 

"New friendships and connections are forged, and unique stories are shared," she said. 

This year, the keynote speaker was the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Dunedin, Most Reverend Michael Joseph Dooley, who spoke to the theme of "The Importance of Interfaith Harmony in the World." 

He urged individuals of faith to "focus on what we have in common.

"Getting to know each other is the best thing we can do," he said.


He encouraged all to “return to God, rely on God, and not on our own power and status."

Bishop Dooley further stated: "Everyone teaches us something. I believe God interacts with us through other people."

In closing he urged all to "seek common ground with our sisters and brothers across the world. God bless you all as we continue on in our journey together."

Councillor Christine Garey, representing the Mayor's Office, also addressed the gathering on the theme of "Interfaith Harmony in Dunedin." 

"One of the many wonderful things about Dunedin is that, even though it is a small city in a far flung reach of our beautiful planet, it is a place which has attracted, welcomed and celebrated diversity—diversity of race, diversity of culture and diversity of faith.

"This week's United Nations World Interfaith Harmony Week is a wonderful occasion to not only celebrate that, but also continue to build on it."

She added: "The Dunedin Interfaith Council also continues to have the support of the Dunedin City Council in its work to foster mutual appreciation, and promote harmony and cooperation among members. In doing so the Interfaith Council sets a valuable example to those in the wider community.

"In a world where the politics of belief are often used to try to push us apart, all of our efforts to promote interfaith harmony have never been more important."

Newsroom contributor: Max Gillies

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