Islam in New Zealand

Islam in New Zealand

Islam in New Zealand has grown with inward immigration to that country.


The first Muslims in New Zealand were Chinese golddiggers working in the Dunstan gold fields of Otago in the 1870s. In the early 1900s three important Gujarati Muslim families came from India. The first Islamic organisation in New Zealand, the “New Zealand Muslim Association” (NZMA), was established in Auckland in 1950. In 1951 the refugee boat SS Goya brought over 60 Muslim men from eastern Europe, including Mazhar Krasniqi who would later serve twice as president of the New Zealand Muslim Association. These Gujarati and European immigrants worked together in the 1950s to buy a house and convert it into an Islamic Centre in 1959. The following year the first Imam arrived in New Zealand - Maulana Said Musa Patel from the Gujarat. Students from South Asia and South East Asia helped establish the other prayer rooms and Islamic centres elsewhere from the 1960s onwards, although New Zealand had a relatively tiny Muslim population until many years later.

In April 1979 Mazhar Krasniqi brought together the three regional Muslim organisations of Canterbury, Wellington and Auckland, to create the first and only national Islamic body - the Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand (FIANZ). He was honoured for his efforts by the New Zealand government in 2002, receiving a Queens Service Medal. Later Dr Hajji Ashraf Choudhary would serve as president (1984-85) before pursuing his political career and entering New Zealand parliament in 1999.

Large-scale Muslim migration began in the 1970s with the migration of Fiji-Indians for work. This was exacerbated after the first Fiji coups of 1987. These were working class in the 1970s, followed by more professional social elements in the late 1980s. Early in the 1990s many migrants were admitted under New Zealands refugee quota, from war zones in Somalia, Bosnia, Afghanistan, Kosovo and Iraq.

Cartoon Controversy

In 2006, two newspapers in New Zealand decided to republish controversial Danish cartoons depicting Muhammad, the prophet of Islam. The Muslim community registered their displeasure through press statements and a small peaceful march in Auckland. The editors said they did not mean offence but would not back down. New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark and opposition leader Don Brash both made similar statements that the cartoons were not appreciated if they deeply offended members of the NZ community, but that such decisions were for editors to make, not politicians. Muslim leaders and the editors got together with the race relations office, and Jewish and Christian representatives in Wellington. As a result of this meeting the editors said they would not apologise but in good faith would refrain from publishing the offending images again. The New Zealand Muslim leadership, through FIANZ, then proceeded in good faith to consider the matter closed and furthermore draft letters to 52 Muslim countries asking that NZ products not be boycotted.

Contemporary Islam in New Zealand

In the 2006 census 36,072 people identified themselves as Muslim - up 52.6% from 5 years earlier [ [ 2006 Census data] ] , and New Zealand now has a number of mosques in the major centres, and two Islamic schools (Al Madinah and Zayed College for Girls).

The community is noted for its harmonious relations with the wider New Zealand community, with various interfaith efforts from all sides contributing to this situation. This was strained somewhat after a speech by nationalist politician Winston Peters who during the 2005 election campaign described the New Zealand Muslim community as a "multi headed hydra, waiting to strike" and questioned their loyalty to New Zealand. [ [ New Zealand First: The End Of Tolerance] , an address by Rt Hon Winston Peters to members of Far North Grey Power, Thursday 28 July 2005, Far North Community Centre, Kaitaia, 2pm.]

The Muslim Students and Youth Association of NZ was formed in 1997. It is affliated to Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand (FIANZ). It is primarily run by students at Universities and Youth in the Community. They undertake regular activities like Islam Awareness Week (IAW), Sports Tournaments and organize Muslim Youth camps.

There are also small communities of Muslims from Turkey, the Indian subcontinent (Pakistan, India and Bangladesh) and South-East Asia, all of which communities are concentrated in the major cities of Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, and Christchurch. In recent years an influx of foreign students from Malaysia and Singapore has increased the proportion of Muslims in some other centres, notably the university city of Dunedin. Dunedin's Al-Huda mosque is reputedly the world's southernmost, and is further from Mecca than any mosque in the Southern Hemisphere.

Maori Muslims

There is a small but growing amount of conversions among the wider New Zealand population and Islam is the fastest growing religion amongst the Maori community. [ [ Kia Ora Aotearoa] ] The 2001 census figures shows that 3000 Europeans registered as Muslim in 2001. Census figures show the number of Maori Muslims increased from 99 to 708 in the 10 years to 2001. But Kireka-Whaanga, the leader of "Aotearoa Maori Muslim Association" (AMMA), said numbers had shot up since September 11, as global media focused on radical Islam.The AMMA, the most influential Māori Muslim movement, has roots in the Hawkes Bay province. They view tino rangatiratanga as a jihad, and that Islam is the perfect vehicle for Maori nationalism.

ee also

*Islam by country
*Religion in New Zealand


* Drury, Abdullah, Islam in New Zealand: The First Mosque (Christchurch, 2007) ISBN 978-0-473-12249-2

External links

* [ Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand]
* [ International Muslim Association of New Zealand]

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