New Zealand has no state religion, and church and state institutions are separate. The majority of early settlers to New Zealand hailed from Europe and brought the Christian faiths with them. Today, New Zealand is predominantly Christian with Hinduism being the next largest religion. New Zealand is one out of three countries with a rapidly growing atheist and agnostic population.
New Zealand has a diverse population and therefore boasts a variety of religions. A statement on religious diversity in New Zealand was produced by the New Zealand Diversity Action Programme in 2007. The statement provides a framework for the recognition of New Zealand’s diverse faith communities and their harmonious interaction with each other.
According to the most recent census the largest religions in New Zealand are:
- Catholic (12.61%)
- Anglican (11.79%)
- Presbyterian (8.47%)
- Other Christianity (15.14%)
- Hinduism (2.11%)
- Buddhism (1.50%)
- Islam (1.18%)
- Other religions (1.53%)
- Undeclared (4.44%)
- No religion (41.92%)
In New Zealand’s legislation and policy, the State respects freedom of thought, conscience and religion. There are few constraints on the freedom to express one’s religion or beliefs.
Generally, New Zealand does well in balancing the right to freedom of expression and the right to freedom of religion and belief. For example, an employer is required to accommodate the religious or ethical belief practices of an employee as long as any adjustment required, “does not unreasonably disrupt the employer’s activities.”
The right to freedom of religion and belief is incorporated in New Zealand law, New Zealand generally complies with and exceeds international standards.
Some challenges do remain in relation to accommodating differences in religion and belief in practice. For those who need a quiet place of prayer throughout the day, this may be difficult to find. While Universities throughout New Zealand do cater to this, much of New Zealand’s infrastructure is not set up to accommodate a quiet place of prayer.
Places for prayer and worship
As New Zealand is predominately of Christian faith, there are many historical and new churches available nationwide. It is common to find multiple churches within the one suburb, so you needn’t travel far. However, mosques and synagogues are less common though you will find at least one in most major cities. Your Reloc8 consultant can help you find the closest place of worship for you.
Observance of holy days
In New Zealand, some public holidays observe major Christian festivals such as Easter and Christmas. However, there are no public holidays covering festivals of equal significance for other religious groups. Some employment agreements do make provision for the observance of holy days. Legislation states that employees can either apply for special leave or take alternative days to the Christian public holidays.
If religion is an important part of your life, be sure to let your Relocation Consultant know so that they can provide you with more information and support. You can contact firstname.lastname@example.org to talk about your needs today.