Venkat Raman –
The Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand (FIANZ) is to build an Islamic Centre in Auckland at an estimated cost of $12 million, it has been revealed.
The Federation has obtained Resource Consent from Auckland Council to create a complex with multiple facilities at a ten-acre plot it purchased on Porchester Road in Ardmore of Franklin District about two years ago.
FIANZ Legal Advisor and Business Committee Member Umarji Mohammed told Indian Newslink that the construction of the Complex will be undertaken in stages and that the immediate task is to prepare a detailed building plan and get it approved by Auckland Council.
“Once this has been achieved, construction works will commence. While the Federation purchased the land from its savings, construction and other costs would be possible only through funds from donors in New Zealand and overseas. We are contacting various organisations as a part of our fundraising drive,” Mr Mohammed said.
The Complex will provide a Dialogue and Interfaith Centre and will be open to everyone to come and see what Islam is all about as a religion and a way of life,” he added.
This is a major project, which will eventually be a significant milestone for the Muslim community in New Zealand, he added.
The new Complex will enable Muslims from varied backgrounds to come together, foster goodwill, understanding and harmony. It will also provide facilities for religious, social, recreational and other pursuits within the teachings of Islam.
“The Complex will also be open to Non-Muslims through regular programmes so that they can connect with the Muslim community. This will help to create a better understanding of each other,” Mr Mohammed said.
The Complex will accommodate an Islamic Centre with a Mosque for prayers, Conference Room, School, community hall, offices, commercial kitchen and other facilities.
“We propose to construct a two-level school building to house 13 classrooms, staff room, specialised teaching rooms with about 300 students and 20 staff. The Federation considers education as one of the most important duties to the community. An indoor swimming pool and a multipurpose sports hall will form a part of the Complex which will be used by students and teachers,” Mr Mohammed said.
As well as six traveller accommodation units, the Complex will account for an outdoor sports arena including a paved court and three designated parking lots for 156 vehicles.
Mr Mohammed said that the Project was in line with the objectives of FIANZ to invest in properties and generate income to serve the growing Muslim population and provide services and facilities for the younger sections of the community.
“The only source of income for FIANZ has been from certifying meat as halal for export to Islamic and other Countries. The yearly income from this service is less than $1 million. Most of the income goes to expenses associated with the certifying process.
“FIANZ officials are volunteers and any monetary compensation for their time in halal certifying business is donated to the Organisation. Savings made over the years have been used to assist the Muslim community in New Zealand through grants and soft loans to advance their social, religious and educational needs,” he said.
According to Mr Mohammed, growing competition in halal certification has affected the income accruing to FIANZ, and hence there was a need to explore investment opportunities.
“We currently have two properties considered safe investment. FIANZ plans to own more such properties as funds become available,” Mr Mohammed said.
FIANZ was established in 1978 when the Muslim population in New Zealand was less than 3000. Today, there are more than 55,000 Muslims, made up of about 56 nationalities.
Photo : An artist’s impression of the new Islamic Centre