Humanist Society of New Zealand (Inc.), PO Box 3372, Wellington, New Zealand – Registered Charity No. CC36074

The Humanist Society of New Zealand is a Member Organisation of the International Humanist and Ethical Union

Humanist Newsletter June 2018

Kia ora: There is a beautiful Whakatauki

He aha te mea nui o te ao What is the most important thing in the world?

He tangata, he tangata, he tangata It is the people, it is the people, it is the people.

In August there is a gathering of the people, Humanist people, both international and national. The magic of the people is YOU. Have you registered to come to the NZ Humanist Conference and the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) General Assembly in Auckland Friday 3 August through to Sunday 5 August? Prior to this weekend there will be a Parliamentary Welcome Function at the Beehive, Wellington Monday 30 July. As our planning progresses there is a schedule of venue payments. We would appreciate the cash flow assistance of Registration payments. To register go to

We now have a further and unexpected NZ Visitor Visa application difficulty. This situation is redolent of George Orwell’s 1984 where “all persons are equal but some are more equal than others”. Are you aware that there are Visa waiver and non-visa waiver countries? As Kiwis, we travel with ease. We can readily assume that we will be granted visas. Humanists planning to visit New Zealand from Guatemala, Uganda, Botswana, Nepal, India, and Pakistan are among the persons who live in non-visa waiver countries. The Immigration NZ (INZ) Visitor Visa application process requires extensive documentation, and as there is no central processing office in NZ, but several offices located around the world, decisions can be inconsistent and random. Three of our intending Conference participants, including one speaker,  who are active members of the IHEU and IHEU affiliated organisations in their own countries have had their NZ Visitor Visa applications declined for spurious reasons, despite meeting all the requirements and showing their previous travel records! From the letters declining the applications it appears that documentation is often not read. Is this a case of racial profiling or prejudice against Humanists or non-religious people? The decisions are final with no right of appeal, and future applications are also very likely to be declined. Those who have had visas declined must now declare this on every visa application they make to any country for the rest of their lives! This is very distressing for both them and us and gives New Zealand a very bad name. A visa application costs people from these countries a lot of money that is not refunded when visas are declined. It is common knowledge among persons from poorer countries, the non-Visa waiver countries, that there is a growing inequality of travel.

We have engaged the help of an experienced Immigration Lawyer who has already given us valuable pro bono assistance. The lawyer is able to ask for a review and knows how to work with INZ and can achieve success where an individual applicant cannot. However, to continue with the Visa assistance there is unavoidable financial cost. We are asking NZ Humanists to consider a donation to the Humanist Society of NZ to help with these unexpected costs. Your donation to HSNZ is eligible for a tax credit. Using the internet has reduced expenditure and we have not pushed yearly membership dues. However, with this NZ Visa situation, financial assistance from humanists will be most appreciated. Our bank account is BNZ 02-0392-0094973-000. Please put your name and NZVISA in the reference block. Please email us with details of your donation so that a receipt may be issued.

Monthly meeting: Monday June 11 6.30pm til 9.00pm

Workshop on the draft NZ Humanist Manifesto-Humanism 2020

(Note change of date as the 1st Monday of June is the Queen’s Birthday holiday)

We will continue with last month’s Workshop on the draft Manifesto. We have titled this Manifesto, Humanism 2020 – a humanist NZ we would love to see in 2020. The intent is to establish a set of common issues which describe a NZ society where secular, humanist and rationalist values are upheld. The idea of Humanism 2020 was prompted by the 2017 General Election. On Monday 30 July there will be a public Parliamentary Function at the Beehive, Wellington to welcome our IHEU guests. At this gathering we will formally present Humanism 2020. We will follow this with a dinner together. Join us on Monday June 11, as your input into this document is very much welcomed. This exercise was begun in 2017 as a collaborative exercise between the Humanist Society of NZ and the NZ Association of Rationalists and Humanists (NZARH)

We will also discuss a suggestion that we update our Society’s name to Humanist NZ or NZ Humanists. The British Humanist Association is now Humanists UK. Your opinion is valued.

All interested people are welcome, Society members and members of the public – bring a friend.

Venue: Thistle Inn, 3 Mulgrave St in the George Room

“The day the power of love overrules the love of power, the world will know peace.”―Mahatma Gandhi

2018 Humanist Conference and International Humanist & Ethical Union General Assembly 3-6 August

This gathering is a collaborative event with the New Zealand Association of Rationalists and Humanists

Parliamentary Welcome Function 30 July 5.30pm Beehive

To begin this IHEU NZ visit there will be a prior event in Wellington on Monday 30 July. This is a Parliamentary Welcome Function being held at the Beehive. Sara Passmore , our HSNZ President and Peter Harrison, NZARH President will launch the NZ Humanist Manifesto a collaborative document with HSNZ and NZARH. After the welcome there will be dinner at the Whitby Restaurant at the James Cook Hotel. Some of our visitors will travel up to Auckland by car and it is thought that we may travel together over two days up to Auckland. After the Conference and General Assembly there are plans for some travel together down to Hobbiton, Rotorua, Waitomo Caves and back to Auckland. The James Cook Hotel is offering a discounted room rate if you are attending from outside Wellington. To make a room reservation use the link below

You are very welcome to join the ‘road trip’ north and also the post –conference travel.

There is more information on and also see Events on our Facebook page Humanist Society of NZ

NZ Humanist Conference & IHEU General Assembly

Conference Venue:  Hotel Heritage Auckland is our Conference venue. This hotel is in downtown Auckland Hobson St and is set within the iconic Farmers Building which many may remember from childhood days.

Conference Website: to register go to

Conference Dates and programme outline: We will begin with a social gathering Friday 3 August which will include a Humanist Quiz with the winning team of four receiving a collection of 4 signed A C Grayling books. Saturday 4 August will be the Humanist Conference with a dinner in the evening with Sunday 5 August, the General Assembly. All are welcome to attend the General Assembly to observe the inner workings of the IHEU.

NZ Humanist Conference Speakers

Eru Hiko-Tahuri and Te Henare,

In the 2013 census 46% of Māori said they had no religion. However, Eru Hiko-Tahuri, who blogs and writes under the name The Heretical Hori states that ‘there are very few Māori who would admit to being atheist”.

Eru Hiko-Tahuri, and founder of Maori Atheists and Freethinkers Te Henare, will talk about about being atheists, letting go of superstition, and navigating the Māori world where almost everything is permeated with notions of spirituality and religion.

Andrew Copson

Secularism – separation of church and state and the elimination of legal religious discrimination – has many opponents. Some of these opponents are theocrats, making explicitly religious arguments against secularism. But others are not and make non-religious arguments against this way of ordering politics and the state. Even in majority non-religious societies, can we therefore be confident that secularism will follow? Andrew Copson, President of IHEU and author of Secularism: politics, religion, and freedom (OUP, 2017), will explore some of the secular arguments against secularism and try to answer this question.

In conversation with Auntie Jackie

The Aunties meet the material needs for the people who use community services. Auntie Jackie states firmly that “If you aren’t about giving with love, and no judgement, then this isn’t the charity for you.” Find out more about the difference this grass roots effort is making to the lives of women, children and families, their unique kaupapa, and how this unique model developed to sustainably serve the community.

Leo Igwe

Lucky Not So Lucky: Humanist Activism in a World Threatened by Religious Extremism

Drawing from his experiences living and working as a humanist in Africa, Leo Igwe will show that irrational beliefs and violent fanaticisms that rage in places across Africa have transnational roots and connections. Superstitious and dogmatic beliefs pose a serious threat to our common humanity. He contends that active involvement of all humanists – whether in New Zealand or in Papua New Guinea – is needed to eradicate irrational beliefs worldwide.

Imtiaz Shams,

Founder of Faith to Faithless, has been using his experience founding ‘tech for good’ start-ups to help apostates who leave conservative religions. He’s in New Zealand in August speaking on his experience and the work of his organisation

Gulalai Ismail

Recipient of Anna Politkovskaya Award 2017, Chirac Foundation Conflict Prevention Award- 2016 Laureate, Commonwealth Youth Award 2015, International Humanist Award 2014, 2013 NED Democracy Award, Recognized among 100 Leading Global Thinkers 2013, Honored by NED among “30 Under 30”,2013,Youth Action Net Fellow 2009.

Gulalai is a Pashtun human rights activist from Pakistan and chairperson of Aware Girls and the Seeds of Peace network. She speaks on the subject of promoting peace in Pakistan and women’s empowerment at conferences internationally and is the recipient of the 2014 International Humanist of the Year Award from the International Humanist and Ethical Union, and of the Fondation Chirac Peace Prize.

At the age of 16, she founded the non-government organisation Aware Girls with her sister Saba Ismail. Aware Girls aims to challenge the culture of violence and the oppression of women in the rural Khyber Pakhtunkhwa area in the north west of Pakistan.

In 2010, Ismail set up the Seeds of Peace network, training young people in human rights and political leadership, encouraging the participation of women in politics in Pakistan, and encouraging tolerance between people of differing faiths.Her work is characterised by promoting peace and pluralism; challenging religious extremism and militancy; promoting good governance in areas stricken by militancy, providing civic education to young people; strengthening democracy; and political mainstreaming of young women.

Catherine Low, Manager of Community, Effective Altruism

A founding member of Effective Altruism New Zealand, she has been involved in effective altruism outreach for the last two years, giving presentations to any group who could possibly be convinced to listen, and has worked with Students for High-Impact Charity developing and trialling their educational resources.


Committee Work on Submissions

Iain Middleton has summarised for us the recent work that our Humanist Committee has been doing on the following important submissions.

End of life Choices Bill. The Humanist Society of New Zealand supports the self-determination including the right of people to choose to die with dignity. On Monday 21 May, HSNZ president Sara Passmore and committee member Iain Middleton appeared before the Justice Select Committee in support of the Humanist Society submission in support of the members End of Life Choice Bill. This Bill allows for a person to receive assisted dying if the person is: aged 18 years or over, is a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident, suffers from a terminal illness likely to end their life within 6 months or has a grievous and irremediable medical condition, is in an advanced state of irreversible decline in capability, experiences unbearable suffering that cannot be relieved in a manner that he or she considers tolerable, has the ability to understand the nature and consequences of assisted dying. Assisted dying requires the approval of two independent medical practitioners.

Crimes Amendment Bill. The Humanist Society of New Zealand has put in a submission in support of the Government Crimes Amendment Bill. This Bill repeals section 123 of the Crimes Act 1961 which makes currently makes Blasphemous Libel a crime. Several members are also known to have forwarded submissions in support of repeal of this ancient and draconian law. Although this law has been on the books in New Zealand for more than a hundred years only one prosecution has occurred under the law and the defendant was found not guilty.

Abortion Law Reform. We are pleased to hear that the result of 25 May Irish referendum on the abortion question was overwhelmingly in favour of liberalisation. We are cautiously optimistic that the New Zealand government is also moving toward reform.

The Humanist Society of New Zealand supports the right of women to full self-determination, including the right to choice regarding family planning and the right to abortion when they so choose. In New Zealand the right to an Abortion is severely curtailed by provisions in the Crimes Act 1961 and the Contraception Sterilisation and Abortion Act 1977. The Crimes Act stipulates that an abortion may only be carried out with the approval of two certifying consultants if: the continuance of the pregnancy would result in serious danger (not being danger normally attendant upon childbirth) to the life, or to the physical or mental health, of the woman or girl; or if there is a substantial risk that the child, if born, would be so physically or mentally abnormal as to be seriously handicapped; or  that the pregnancy is the result of sexual intercourse between: a parent and child; or a brother and sister, a grandparent and grandchild; or that the pregnancy is the result of sexual intercourse that constitutes an offence against section 131(1) [sexual connection with a dependent family member under the age of 18 years]; or that the woman or girl is severely subnormal within the meaning of section 138(2) [exploitative sexual connection with a person with a significant impairment].

On 27 February 2018 the Minister of Justice wrote to the New Zealand Law Commission pointing out the Government’s intention to propose a policy shift to treat abortion as a health issue. The Minister has asked the Commission, as a matter of priority, to provide advice on what alternative approaches could be taken in the legal framework to align with a health approach. The Law Commission’s advice to the Minister will review the criminal aspects of abortion law, the statutory grounds for an abortion and the process for receiving services. The Law Commission received public input between 4 April and 18 May 2018. The Commission is now considering those views as it prepares a Ministerial briefing paper which is due within eight months of the Minister’s request. The minister has suggested that section 182 of the Crimes Act regarding unlawful killing of an unborn child remain in the Act and only amended as necessary. This section makes forced abortions and deliberate killing of an unborn child a crime while allowing for abortions that are carried out within the law and with the consent of the woman involved.

“And sin, young man, is when you treat people like things.”―Terry Pratchett, Carpe Jugulum

“Human decency is not derived from religion. It precedes it.”―Christopher Hitchens, God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything                                                                                   Gaylene Middleton