Early settlers came to Otago

The first Muslims to reside in New Zealand were 15 Chinese Mahometans living in Dunstan, near Dunedin Otago, in April 1874.

The first Muslim to be buried in New Zealand was a Javanese sailor named Mohamed Dan who died in Dunedin in 1888.

Akif Keskin, a Turk from Macedonia, was an early Muslim settler in this region. He moved to Dunedin in 1953 and ran a Turkish restaurant until 1976. He was a prominent citizen attending RSA functions.

Muslims have been moving in and out of Otago for work and study for many decades.

By the 1980s, there was a significant number of Muslim Halal slaughter men, students and residents.

However it was not until 1992 when the numbers reached a critical mass.

This is when the approximately 100 Muslims of the city began to properly organise themselves and established the Otago Muslim Association.

It was formally registered on July 25, 1995 and the following year, joined the Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand (FIANZ).

The Otago Muslim Association, under the leadership of Steve Ali Akbar, a local convert to Islam, acquired a proper Islamic Centre of its own when a community hall in the centre of the city was purchased in December 2000, making it the world’s southern most Mosque.

-From ‘Muslims in New Zealand,’ a Federation of Islamic Association of New Zealand silver jubilee publication.

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