Expo captures spirit of Asian Muslims

A photographic exhibition capturing the lives of a number of Muslims of Asian origin resident in New Zealand is currently on show at the Dunedin Museum.

The Crescent Moon: the Asian Face of Islam in New Zealand will be open to public at the People of the World Gallery until May 27, 2012.

Exhibition Services Tours is touring the exhibition developed by Wellington based Asia New Zealand in partnership with Pataka Museum of Arts & Cultures.

A Museum press note said that the exhibition provides a captivating and often surprising insight into the lives of Asian Muslims, an intrinsic part of New Zealand’s population makeup since the first Muslim Chinese gold miners landed on these distant shores over 130 years ago.

The exhibits are the works of photographer Ans Westra, an immigrant from Netherlands, with 40 years of experience in the field.

It features 37 men and women representing the diversity of heritages of the many regions of Asia and reflecting complex patterns of migration.

They express an emergent, indigenous Islam identity in Asia-Pacific.

Many of them comfortably and confidently occupy hybrid worlds, combining labels such as ‘Kiwi and Muslim’, ‘Asian and New Zealander.’

The exhibition also features individuals from two Dunedin families.

They are Rugby mad Khalid Slaimankhel who came to New Zealand with his family when he was one-year old. He describes himself as a Kiwi, but still sees himself as a full-blooded Afghan.

The other person is Najib Lafraie, former Minister of State for Foreign Affairs in Afghanistan. He is now a lecturer in the Political Studies Department at the University of Otago.

The press note said Ms Westra played an integral part in the documentation of Maori culture over 50 years of significant political and cultural challenge.

“She was a recipient of the Companion of the Order of New Zealand Merit in 1998 for services to photography and received an Arts Foundation Icon Award in 2007. In the making of the book which led to this exhibition, Ms Westra and writer Adrienne Jansen travelled through the country, meeting a very diverse group, ethnically, culturally, and theologically,” the note said.

What: The Crescent Moon

The Asian Face of Islam in NZ

Where: People of the World Gallery

Otago Museum, 419 Great King Street, Dunedin

When: Daily from 10 am to 5 pm until May 27, 2012

Contact: Phone (03) 4747474 Fax: (03) 4775993

Email: mail@otagomuseum.govt.nz

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