History of Islam in NZ

Muslim History in New Zealand

The first Muslims living in New Zealand were 15 Chinese “Mahometans” living in the gold mining settlement of Dunstan, Otago, in April 1874 according to the government census. In the 1890s and 1900s several Punjabi and Gujarati Indian men arrived here, and from the 1930 and 1940s these men began to bring out their wives and families.

In 1950 the first Muslim organisation was set up when the “New Zealand Muslim Association” was established in Auckland. There were approximately 200 Muslims in all New Zealand at the time. In 1959 the Association acquired a property in Ponsonby and made it the first Islamic Centre. In 1960 the first Imam arrived here — Maulana Ahmed Said Musa Patel (1937-2009) from Gujarat.

This was followed by the creation of the Wellington-based “International Muslim Association of New Zealand” in 1962 and the “Muslim Association of Canterbury” in 1977. Between the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s there was an influx of east European Muslim refugees, Fiji Indian migrants and Muslim students from across Asia.

By 1979 there were around 2000 Muslims in all New Zealand and representatives of the three main Muslim Associations met to create the “Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand” in April and appointed Kosova-born Mazhar Krasniqi as the inaugural president. He was soon followed by the much respected (late) Hajji Abdul Rahim Rasheed, originally from Fiji. In 1982 Sheikh Khalid Kamal Abdul Hafiz (1938-1999) from central India arrived to serve as Imam in Wellington. He later became the senior spiritual adviser to the Islamic Federation. Over 1984 to 1985 Dr Hajji Ashraf Chaudhary served as president of the Federation before entered Parliament in 2002.

From the 1980s to the present period there has been a steady increase in the number of Muslim migrants, refugees and students from Asia, the Middle East and Africa. There was also a corresponding increase in the size and number of Muslim organisations established, especially in Auckland. The Islamic Education and Dawah Trust was set up in 1990 and currently operates the Al Madinah School and Al Zayad Girls College in Mangere, Auckland.

According to the 2006 census there were over 36,000 Muslims resident in New Zealand, the majority of who live in Auckland. The Federation of Islamic Associations has become very involved in the Halal certification of export meat and tries to represent New Zealand Muslims at a national and international level.

By: Abdullah Drury, Author of Islam In New Zealand – The First Mosque
Available for $12 each, plus postage/handling within New Zealand. Contact: abdullah@xtra.co.nz

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