Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi & Dr Parmjeet Parmar –
There has been much talk in the media lately about the issue of the kirpan at the ICC Cricket World Cup.
Although the community may be disappointed, it is important to recognise that the ICC is responsible for setting the rules around entry to the grounds and we have to respect that.
However, we are committed to working with the organisers and community representatives at large to come to a satisfactory solution to this debate.
The Government is well aware of the concerns of the Sikh community relating to the wearing of the kirpan and is sympathetic to those concerns as Prime Minister John Key has indicated.
We will be working alongside our colleagues in Parliament on changes to the legislation, and we are keen to hear the views of the wider community on this issue.
The kirpan is a ceremonial dagger and is an integral part of the Sikh religion.
In many ways, it can be considered similar to the Cross in Christianity.
Just as a Cross is worn by devout Christian, baptised Sikhs are required to wear the kirpan. It is one of the five items, known as the ‘Five Ks,’ which were given to Sikhs by Sikh Guru, Gobind Singh.
The other four items are kesh or keeping the hair and beard uncut; kangha, the wooden comb used to groom the hair; katchera, the undergarment used by Sikhs; and kara, a steel circle worn on the wrist to signify bondage to truth and freedom.
Understanding the importance of the kirpan to the community is a good step in addressing the issue of its legality.
We are lucky to live in a country that celebrates ethnic diversity and this leaves us confident that there is support to legalise the wearing of the kirpan.
New Zealand is an inclusive and tolerant society where people are allowed to practise whichever religion they wish. This is why people from all over the world want to make New Zealand their home.
The government has made great strides in providing services to our diverse population and harnessing the benefits that arise from this diversity.
We have expanded Language Line to provide telephone interpreting in 44 languages to 90 public sector organisations and more recently to the private sector.
We are putting in place policy settings to help ethnic businesses and exporters compete overseas, and we are connecting ethnic business people and other SMEs through ‘Ethnic People in Commerce’ (EPIC) and ETHNICA annual conferences.
New Zealand’s ethnic communities bring a range of ideas, skills and knowledge that are a real asset to this country.
We have over 200 ethnicities and a quarter of our population was born overseas.
Our population holds a wealth of cultural, language and foreign market knowledge and experience that is an asset not many countries can boast.
We, along with the rest of the Government, want to encourage everyone to embrace, support and celebrate New Zealand’s ethnic diversity.
Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi and Dr Parmjeet Parmar are Members of Parliament on National List. Mr Bakshi has been a lawmaker since 2008 and is currently the Chairman of the Law & Order Select Committee of Parliament. Dr Parmar entered Parliament after the general election held on September 20, 2014. Related articles appear in this Section.