Pearl of the Islands Foundation (PIF) recently held its 14th Annual Friendship and Dialogue Iftar Dinner, a remarkable success. This event brought together a diverse range of guests, including ministers, MPs, human rights commissioners, consuls, community leaders, members of the media, academia, and representatives from various organizations.
The event began with a karakia, followed by a beautiful recitation of the call to prayer, delicious food was served. A wide range of people attended, and the general mood was one of good companionship and learning about each other.
After the recitation of the Quran by Sheikh Muhammad Amir, the Mufti of New Zealand, the hosts of the event, Prof Faruk Balli, chairperson of PIF and Hon Michael Wood, Minister of Immigration, Transport, Auckland and Workplace Relation and Safety, welcomed the guests.
The guest speaker was Hon Priyanca Radhakrishnan, Minister for Diversity, Inclusion and Ethnic Communities. In her speech, Hon Radhakrishnan emphasized the significance of diversity and inclusion in building a cohesive society.
The keynote speaker of the dinner, Psychologist Dr Jonathan Black, presented a valuable keynote speech on the theme of the event which was “Overcoming trauma post natural disasters”.
Several distinguished guests were also in attendance, including the Honorary Consul General of the US in Auckland, Ms Sarah Nelson; Dean of Auckland, The Very Reverend Anne Mills; FIANZ President, Mr Ibrar Sheikh; Human Rights Race Relations Commissioner, Meng Foon; Deputy Mayor, Ms Desley Simpson, and many more.
The event also featured a donation campaign for the Turkey and Syria earthquake and the Auckland flooding and Cyclone Gabrielle. Guests were encouraged by MC John Cleary to contribute directly to the fundraising bank account or at the end of the event.
Entertainment for the evening included Sofi music from Wellington and a Maori Cultural performance. “Maori” and “Sufi” music added to the ambience of the evening.
The highlights of the event included the annual PIF awards, As a PIF tradition, awards ceremonies are held to recognize outstanding individuals in two different categories. This year Community Leadership Award was received by Auckland Deputy Mayor Desley Simpson and Public Service Award was presented to the Ethnic Responsiveness Manager of New Zealand Police, Ms Jessica Phuang,
Honourable Michael Wood presented the award to Desley Simpson, while Yalcin Solak presented the award to Jessica Phuang. Both recipients gave speeches expressing gratitude after receiving their respective awards.
Another highlight of the event was Interfaith prayer for the victims of the recent natural disasters. Prayer performed by representatives of Multiple faiths. Amala Wrightson- Buddhist Representative, Director of Auckland Zen Centre, Paul Wilton-Jewish Representative, Treasurer of the Auckland Interfaith Council, Rev Ivica Gregurec- Christian Representative, Precentor of Holy Trinity, Sheikh Mohammad Amir – Muslim Representative, Mufti of New Zealand, Chairman Ulama Board.
Following the dessert service, a series of floor reflections were given by esteemed individuals including Prof Ershad Ali, Honorary Consul of Maldives;
Rev Janet Marsh, Minister of St Andrews Uniting Church Motueka;
Meng Foon, Human Rights Commissioner;
and Hon Deborah Russell, Minister of Statistics and Earthquake.
The event concluded with Dr Chris Galloway, Advisory Board member of PIF, delivering a vote of thanks.
Overall, the 14th Annual Friendship and Dialogue Iftar Dinner was a successful event that celebrated diversity and promoted social cohesion between cultures.