From Issue 1 of the New Muslim Project Newsletter

At the dawn of the 19th century, many settlers were overcome by the desire to escape difficult pasts, searched for a place to call home that promised a better future, and hoped to settle in a country that could grant them prosperity and riches. Despite the long, tedious journey to reach it, New Zealand—land of the long, white cloud—became a desired land of refuge among these settlers.

It was not until the 1870s that immigration began to boom and the non-Maori population rose from just under 30,000 to over 250,000.

Fuelled by the export of wool and the discovery of gold, New Zealand became a land of growth and energy, and attracted the eyes of many settlers across the world.

Among these settlers was a group of 15 Chinese Muslims called “Mahometans” who lived in the gold mining settlement of Dunstan, Otago. Soon after, several Punjabi and Gujarati men from India arrived. Once they found prosperity, they sent for their families in the 1930s, and thus the Muslim community began to grow.

In 1950, the New Zealand Islamic Association was the first Islamic organisation formed to represent the 200 Muslims who had settled in New Zealand. As more Muslim immigrants began to arrive, they worked together to buy a house in the heart of Ponsonby in 1959, which was converted to the first Islamic centre in New Zealand. The following year brought the first Imam in the country, Maulana Said Musa Patel, from Gujarat, India.

Ponsonby mosque today

The Muslim population continued to grow slowly and reached 2,000 Muslim immigrants by 1979, the majority of which could be found in Canterbury, Auckland and Wellington. To remain united, the three associations brought about by these cities met to create the Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand (FIANZ), which to this day still represents the Muslim community.

Today, New Zealand is home to about 40,000 Muslims representing more than 40 nationalities.

As this number keeps growing, New Zealand Muslims continue to develop their strong community, dedicated to working together on following the righteous path towards success in their religion.