Sonny Bill Williams could find his rugby career curtailed if he refuses to support any sponsorship that runs contrary to his Islamic religion. Williams covered the BNZ logo on his collar in his first game for the Blues. Williams has lodged a conscientious objection in his contract to finance companies, banks, alcohol companies, tobacco companies and gambling companies. According to Victoria University religious studies professor Paul Morris, the rugby player's conscientious objection was valid if cleared with the sponsor and the management of the team. Islamic Women's Council spokeswoman Anjum Rahman said Williams was making a statement and it was a valid choice. New Zealand Bankers' Association CEO Karen Scott-Howman said banks were constantly responding to customer preferences. However, the banks do not see the demand for Sharia-compliant banking in New Zealand.
Sara Jawadi, a Muslim woman who unsuccessfully lobbied New Zealand's big banks for interest-free mortgages, is turning her attention to other financial institutions. Jawadi said she had approached Kiwibank, ANZ, BNZ and Westpac but she was either met with no response or was told to send an email. The next step was to approach private investors and finance companies in the hope of a better response, she said. Jawadi and other Kiwi Muslims in similar situations could be in luck as New Zealand's first Islam-friendly KiwiSaver provider plans to offer interest-free mortgages to Muslims. Amanah Ethical launched the country's first Sharia-compliant KiwiSaver earlier this year.
Sydney-based Waratah Resources Limited plans to launch an Islamic commodities trading business as it shifts focus from Asian markets to the Middle East. The move adds to a growing number of firms keen to tap into an Islamic finance market that is developing beyond its traditional homes in the Middle East and southeast Asia. Waratah will setup a company domiciled in the Malaysian offshore finance centre of Labuan under a 50/50 joint venture agreement with Malaysia's Amanie Holdings, an Islamic finance advisory firm. The firm's next goal is to secure funding arrangements with partners who have been introduced by its sharia partners over the past few months, to provide the required capital for its joint venture vehicle, said executive chairman Ben Kirkpatrick.