Immigration NZ apologises for offending Sikh community – Report

Gurdwara Mata Sahib Kaur in Hamilton, New Zealand – Photo: NZ Sikh Youth Facebook

By Asia Samachar | New Zealand |

Immigration New Zealand has apologised for offending the country’s Sikh community during a raid on a Hamilton gurdwara, blaming health and safety requirements for the religious transgression, according to a local report.

The NZ Central Sikh Association said immigration officials refused to follow religious protocols when they allegedly forcefully entered the Gurudwara Mata Sahib Kaur Ji gurdwara, NZ Herald reported on Saturday (Oct 15).

Immigration NZ staff entered the gurdwara without removing their shoes or covering their heads, having advised gurdwara officials they would needed to keep their shoes on as per standard health and safety requirements, according to the report.

NZ Central Sikh Association president Daljit Singh said he was visiting another Sikh gurdwara when he received a call from a gurdwara secretary about the offensive faux pas, upon which he immediately rang Immigration NZ and the Immigration minister.

“I told them the community is upset by the officials’ actions. We are New Zealand citizens … It is God’s place. We received an apology letter. They came to the same place [yesterday]. They will follow the protocol from now on. We are satisfied with this response,” he was quoted in the report.

Daljit said Immigration NZ chief executive Carolyn Tremain visited the gurdwara this week to apologise for not following religious protocols when executing a search warrant, adding that immigration officials did not find anything at the gurdwara during their search.

In a statement to the Herald on Sunday, Immigration NZ said it was “deeply sorry” but did not indicate the health and safety procedures would change in future, the report added.

Karen Bishop, Immigration NZ’s general manager verification and compliance, said: “I have spoken with the president of the New Zealand Central Sikh Association to apologise for any offence caused. We are deeply sorry for any offence caused during the execution of a search warrant at an address in Hamilton on Monday. I have also met with temple officials today to discuss how our compliance teams can engage more effectively with the Sikh community in the future.”

New Zealand Central Sikh Association is said to represent 70,000 Sikhs in the country.


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