About us

Welcome to the Wellington Abrahamic Council of Jews, Christians and Muslims, formerly the Wellington Council of Christians and Jews. Our council brings together our Abrahamic religious communities in a common effort to overcome the evils of prejudice, intolerance and discrimination between people of different religions and ethnicity. We are affiliated to the International Council of Christians and Jews.

We are a registered charity (CC36895). From our Constitution,

2.1 The aim of the Council is to foster understanding, friendship and trust between the Abrahamic faiths of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

2.2 The aim of the Council will be achieved by:

(a) Enabling Jews, Christians and Muslims in the wider community to understand their common heritage and appreciate one another’s distinctive beliefs and practices.
(b) Promoting a more just and tolerant society and combating all forms of discrimination.
(c) Working collectively for wider interfaith dialogue, and on projects supporting the Council’s aim.
(d) Discussing and where appropriate speaking out on issues of mutual concern.

2.3 The Council may undertake any other action which will assist in better achieving the aim.

You can download a PDF copy of the Constitution of the Wellington Abrahamic Council of Jews, Christians and Muslims.

Our current members are:

Dave Moskovitz (Jewish Co-chair) has been active at Temple Sinai for many years in governance roles and as a lay leader and cantor, although his main career is in Information Technology and Startups. He attended Los Angeles Hebrew High School, and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. He’s been interested in interfaith dialogue since his youth, and has been on the Council since 2006. You can find out more about him at dave.moskovitz.co.nz.
Martin Halliday Martin Halliday is a congregant at Temple Sinai, Wellington’s Progressive Jewish Congregation. He has just completed four years as a member of the Temple’s Board of Management. Before Martin stopped being paid for what he did he worked for the Royal New Zealand Navy in uniform for just over thirty years, the New Zealand Defence Force as a civilian staff member for fifteen years and for the old-style University Grants Committee for two years.He holds degrees in Public Administration, History, Religious Studies and Computer Science as well as diplomas in Human Resource Management and Music.
Paul Morris is Emeritus Professor of Religious Studies at Victoria University of Wellington where he holds the UNESCO Chair in Interreligious Understanding and Relations in New Zealand and the Pacific. He is on the board of the Religious Diversity Centre of Aotearoa/New Zealand and was co-chair of the New Zealand Council of Christians and Jews. In 2007 he was awarded the Gold Medal for ‘Peace Through Dialogue’ by the International Council of Christians and Jews (Heppenheim) and is active locally, nationally, and internationally in promoting positive and robust interreligious relations.
Nick Polaschek (Christian Co-chair) practices in the Roman Catholic tradition he was born into. Involvement in meditation has stimulated his interest in interfaith dialogue. Retired, after working in health services roles, with a PhD in Nursing, and degrees in economics and sociology.
Ann Desmond grew up in Glasgow, in a family with Christians and Jews, living in a multi-faith environment where tolerance and acceptance were relatively normal. Ann is actively involved in the Anglican Church in Kāpiti, particularly in prayer and pastoral ministry. Although retired for a number of years, Ann’s background in IT and Project Management have been a good foundation for many of her pursuits. Ann has always been interested in the history and evolution of the Abrahamic faiths and how our relationships can be fostered on the firm basis of shared scriptures and the common ground we share.
David Wardle has recently retired as the Education Officer for the School of Officer Training and the Academic Dean for the School of Bible and Mission at The Salvation Army’s Booth College of Mission. He is currently the Corps Sergeant Major (senior elder) and pastoral assistant to the corps officer at The Salvation Army Upper Hutt Corps (church). David is married to Caroline and has three children and two grandchildren.
Maya Bernardo Maya Bernardo is a Filipina Kiwi Catholic managing the Te Hao Nui Formation Program for lay leaders and ministers, and is currently a member of the Interfaith Relations Committee. She’s been active in the peace movement, and has connections to Jewish and Muslim friends having visited and lived in Israel and Malaysia. She has worked as an academic in universities in the Philippines, Malaysia and Australia, and was an Honorary Fellow for the Australian Catholic University from 2010 to 2018 with research focus on community engagement. One of her published works discusses higher education in the midst of armed conflict.
Rito Triumbarto (Muslim Co-chair) is the Senior Community Development Executive at the Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand (FIANZ), and has been the President of the New Zealand Indonesia Association.
Parwaiz Karamat is the Director of the FIANZ Training Academy. He was a Principal lecturer specializing in Information Technology Management and business courses at the Open Polytechnic of New Zealand. Previously he was Information Technology Specialist working for IBM World Trade Corporation and Hewlett Packard. He holds a master’s degree in system engineering and has been a member of the IEEE since 1974.
Tahir Nawaz is the President of the Deen Welfare Trust. He was the President of the International Muslim Association of New Zealand (IMAN) from 2014-2021, and served as secretary General for the IMAN from 2012-2014. He has also served as Vice President of the Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand (FIANZ).
Tahir is also a Registered Marriage Celebrant and Ambassador of White Ribbon New Zealand.
Ron Bennett is a Catholic priest, ordained in 1972. He is presently Parish Priest of Otari Parish, and Moderator of the Cathedral Parish. He is involved in inter-faith and inter-church activities, finding them enriching his own life’ journey. He had been involved in Defence and Hospital chaplaincy. He enjoys walking and tramping, and has walked the Camino de Compostela 5 times.
David Blocksidge converted to Islam in 2006 while living in Singapore. He has been involved in interfaith activities for several years and sees these as a positive means to highlight what people have in common rather than focus negatively on the things that divide them. After school he trained as a journalist. Since 2012, as a self-employed publisher, he has produced a community magazine for a less-well-off Auckland suburb, believing that you can make a difference at the grassroots. He has volunteered with various organisations on projects ranging from stream restoration and food banks to free burial services for Muslims.
Rev’d Cannon Jenny Chalmers is the Vicar General of the Diocese of Waiapu, and Precentor at Waiapu Cathedral. She was the first Christian Co-Chair of the Wellington Abrahamic Council, and has been a member of the Council of Christians and Jews for 25 years. An Anglican Priest, Jenny has served in three Dioceses.
Sultan Eusoff was the first Muslim Co-chair of the Wellington Abrahamic Council. He works for the Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand. He is well connected with the diverse communities in New Zealand. Sultan is originally from Singapore and worked with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Singapore) for more than twenty years. Sultan is also a Justice of the Peace.
Sr Catherine Jones is a Roman Catholic and member of the Missionary Sisters of the Society of Mary. Catherine was founding chair of the NZ Catholic Bishops Committee for Interfaith Relations, and is keen to re-establish these relationships, having recently returned to Wellington.