Police have been issued updated guidelines on how to handle different religious beliefs..

The booklet, A Practical Reference to Religious Diversity, provides the background and advice on how to best handle the cultural and religious sensitivities of Maori, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Islamic, Jewish and Sikh beliefs.

Police strategic ethnic adviser Kefeng Chu said the booklet was designed to assist police performing their duties and to give them a greater understanding of the cultures they dealt with.

"It's about raising awareness and being more sensitive to the cultures and religious beliefs," he said.

"New Zealand is becoming more and more diverse and the policing must reflect the diverse communities we are serving."

Mr Chu said the updated guidelines were a "fine-tuning" of the 2005 booklet following feedback from leaders of the different ethnic communities. He said changes included a minor "tidying up" of some Maori names used in the earlier version, clearer details for officers dealing with women in the different cultures, and advice on how to deal with Sikhs, who may be asked to take off ceremonial swords or "kirpans" while flying in New Zealand because of changes to aviation laws.

Another new addition included details of the Maori act of makutu after the death of a Wainuiomata woman in 2007 which is currently before the High Court at Wellington. Six women and three men have pleaded not guilty to the manslaughter of Janet Moses after Crown allegations that they "cleansed" the mother of two during the curse-lifting ceremony.

The booklet also gives the background of each culture, the emphasis each places on ceremonial items and clothing, women and children and family values and beliefs.