Case 1 – Legality of the Sikh Kirpan on Aircrafts
The founder of Sikh Aware Harpreet Singh played a significant role in the discussions with AVSEC (Aviation Security New Zealand) to legalize Sikh Kirpans with a blade upto 6cm on all domestic and international flights departing from New Zealand. Today, the website of AVSEC clearly mentions that the Kirpan (with blade upto 6cm) can worn by Sikhs on planes departing from New Zealand. (https://www.aviation.govt.nz/passenger-information/travelling-with-culturally-significant-items/)
The staff of AVSEC have also been trained to ensure that during the measurement of the Kirpan at the airport security, the Kirpan should not be taken away from the Sikhs.
Case 2 – Carrying a Sikh Kirpan to work
Mr Amandeep Singh had been asked by his employer not to wear a Kirpan to work till he produces a letter from the police that it is legal to carry a Kirpan in New Zealand. This issue became a global issue for the Sikhs and Mr Gobind Singh Longowal, the President of SGPC asked Sikh Institutions in New Zealand and the Indian Government to resolve the issue.
Sikh Aware contacted the employer with legal documents, extracts of various New Zealand Laws and precedents and asked the employer to seek legal advice. Sikh Aware also asked the NZ Police to expedite the issuance of the letter confirming the legality of the Kirpan which was pending since more than 2 months with the assistance of Labour Party member Baljit Kaur.
After going through all the documentation, the employer re-instated the employee and even paid the wages for the period Mr Amandeep Singh was not allowed to come to work while wearing a Kirpan and the issue of over 2 months was resolved.
After the resolution of the issue, Sikh Aware again followed up with the police who then issued a letter confirming the legality of the Kirpan in New Zealand for the benefit of any other person in a similar situation.
Case 3 – Removal of Mandatory Helmet for Sikh Bicycle Riders
A school in South Auckland was not allowing Sikh Bicycle Riders to do cycling as a sports activity without a helmet. Sikh Aware arranged for exemption letters from the NZTA for these students which were then provided to the school management. The school then consulted its lawyers and finally agreed to exempt all Sikh students with the NZTA exemption from wearing a helmet during any of the activities at the school.
Case 4 – Hats at school
A lot of schools in New Zealand follow a “No Hat No Play” policy in Term 4 and Term 1. As a result, practicing Sikh children who do not agree to wear hats are not allowed any outdoor activity during the two terms. Sikh Aware has successfully approached multiple schools and asked them to modify their uniform policy to include school branded Sun Visors. Sun Visors achieve the same objective while not hurting the religious sentiments of practicing Sikhs.