Is Family Planning NZ going to set up abortion clinics?

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Family life International is concerned that, having been successful in gaining a license to perform abortions at their Tauranga clinic, the New Zealand Family Planning Association (NZFPA) may be moving towards a similar model followed by Planned Parenthood in the United States (PPFA).

The New Zealand Association says it has "a proud affiliation with the International Planned Parenthood Federation".

After discovering that Cecile Richards, President of PPFA, would be keynoting at the an NZFPA Conference in Wellington, Family Life International organised a peaceful vigil outside the Museum of New Zealand, Te Papa, where the conference was being held.

Family life's Communication Director, Michelle Kaufman, said PPFA has come under fire in the United States after numerous scandals and in the past year has closed over 24 of its clinics.

Kaufman said that during Richards' term as president of the PPFA, over 300,000 abortions are being performed in Planned Parenthood clinics every year.

The vigil which began on Thursday and concluded on Saturday took place for three hours each day from 10:00am until 1:00pm.

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Standing room only at Connor Hayes’ memorial in Ottawa

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Hundreds gathered at Holy Spirit Catholic Church, in Ottawa, Canada, to say goodbye to Connor Hayes last Saturday.

Hayes and his companion Joanna Lam died after a mud slide swept away the vehicle they were travelling in through the Haast Pass in New Zealand. Hayes' body has yet to be found.

At the memorial, the lineup outside the church stood several dozen deep and it was almost an hour before the service began.

Hayes' father, Michael, stood at the church's entrance wearing his son's bright red, No. 20 hockey jersey with the captain's "C" sewn on the shoulder. He shook hands and greeted each of the visitors before they headed inside, and in a church which could easily sit at least 700 people, there was standing room only.

New Zealand's High Commissioner to Canada Simon Tucker attended the funeral and presented the family with a New Zealand flag.

He expressed his condolences and urged all of those in attendance to remember the ambition and energy that Hayes had in life and, above all, to stay strong.

Tucker called the incident "heart breaking" and said the people of New Zealand were treating the deaths of Hayes and Lam as if they had lost two of their own citizens.

Michael Hayes, who said he had experienced the outpouring of grief by New Zealand residents firsthand, used Tucker's appearance as an official opportunity to thank the people of New Zealand. Hayes said residents turned out en masse to help locate the pair in the days after they went missing in early September.

Michael said he became especially close to the people of Haast - at a memorial service there, residents that he barely knew turned up and packed a local church to pay their respects.

He also thanked the members of the New Zealand police force.

Lam's family also attended the memorial. Lam, a sonographer, worked at The Ottawa Hospital where more than $30,000 was quickly fundraised to help with the expense of returning her body to her hometown of Kingston.

Lam's funeral was on Oct. 19.

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Wellington – final decision on parish mergers announced

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The Archbishop Wellington, New Zealand, John Dew has announced a major organisation of the parishes in the Archdiocese.

Some parishes will merge to create a new parish. All parish churches will be retained.

The parish mergers will be implemented over a period of two years and will be completed no later that 1 February 2016.

Before making his decision Archbishop John worked with a focus group that he appointed two years ago.

With the focus group he drew up a series of proposals which from May through August 2013 were taken to parishes and pastoral areas for a broad-based consultation.

Hundreds of people have taken part in discussions and consultations relating to the document. Archbishop John says "the responses bear the results of deep reflection and fervent prayer, for which I am very grateful. It is very clear that the discussions were accompanied by a sense of excitement and with great energy and passion, which are wonderful gifts to bring to the life of the Church."

"This is not an easy time for the Archdiocese. We face unprecedented challenges. We could ignore them and refuse to change, but change is in the very nature of things. Not to change is to stagnate and die. What helps us, of course, is that we know God is with us," say Archbishop John.

Click here for PDF version of the Promulgating Booklet and Appendices

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A non scary alternative to Halloween

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Halloween's popularity had grown in the 10 years since he moved from the United States says Canterbury University Professor Peter Field.

"There are some who object because they think Halloween is Pagan, but for most people candy is a pretty big drawcard for the holiday. We're a child-orientated society and the kids do love it," he says

But there are those who still remain firmly against the Halloween becoming a tradition in New Zealand. Several groups around Christchurch plan to hold alternative, "safe" celebrations.

The Neighbourhood Trust is running a Light Party at St Albans Baptist Church as a "positive alternative" to Halloween.

Trust spokeswoman Kim Button said she started the event last year because she "did not feel comfortable" with Halloween.

Last year about 800 people attended the event, where guests are invited to dress up in "non-scary" costumes and enjoy free activities.

"It's an American tradition and I didn't think it was very Kiwi. I'm a mother and I don't like the idea of children wandering the streets," she said.

Light parties are also planned for Halswell and Waimakariri.

"Halloween" is a name that means nothing by itself. It is a contraction of "All Hallows Eve," and it designates the vigil of All Hallows Day, more commonly known today as All Saints Day.

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NZ gets its first Professor of Diversity

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Edwina Pio, Auckland University of Technology's Business and Law School, has become New Zealand's first Professor of Diversity.

Her expertise relates to work, ethnicity and religion, primarily focussing on ethnic minorities and migrants.

Edwina has a PhD in Buddhist Psychology, a Master's degree in Psychology and a double Bachelor's degree - one in Psychology and the other in Education.

She is on the Board of the Australia New Zealand Academy of Management and is registered with the NZ Association of Counsellors.

Professor Pio has published several books including ‘Sari: Indian women at work in New Zealand', and ‘Longing and Belonging'.

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$760,00 research grant to study NZ spirituality and religion

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A university professor, who was once priest, has been awarded more than $760,000 of public money to study Kiwis' spirituality and religion.

Professor Joseph Bulbulia of Victoria University in Wellington New Zealand, say religion was "intensely important" to him, but "as for an afterlife, or God, I have no idea".

He migrated to Wellington from the United States in 2000, having left the priesthood after one year, and later marrying.

Bulbulia, says he hasn't been to church for 20 years, other than to please his mother, but said research showed that some events, such as the Christchurch earthquakes, renewed people's religious beliefs.

He is one of 109 researchers who will receive a total of $59 million from the Marsden Fund over the next three years.

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Maori translation of Koran launched

A Waikato-Tainui kaumatua who's been involved in translating the Islamic holy book, the Koran, into Te Reo says it will help with a better understanding between Maori and the Islamic world.

The translated work, which has taken 25 years to complete, will be officially launched on Friday. On Tuesday a copy was presented to the Maori King, Tuheitia, by the spiritual leader of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community.

The Caliph, His Holiness Mirza Masroor Ahmad, was welcomed with a powhiri at Turangawaewae Marae on Tuesday. Continue reading