Thousands of Muslims in New Zealand will commence the Holy Month of Ramadan on or about June 28, 2014 and follow the strict codes of Islam, one of which is fasting from dawn to dusk and praying at least five times every day.
They will also follow with greater discipline the teachings of the Holy Quran, fostering the family bond and social and community unity. Businesspeople who constantly travel will ensure that they stay in the country to pray and break the daily fast with their families and meet with their associates and friends thereafter.
There is something special about this Holy Month, which should also be experienced by all Non-Muslims. This month provides an opportunity to understand the ‘real’ Muslim in men and women and the values of the teachings of Islam through the Holy Quran.
Indian Newslink has been privileged to be closely associated with the Muslim community in New Zealand and we have been honoured to promote their activities, achievements and progress in their individual lives and careers over the past 15 years.
Muslims add value to the multicultural profile of New Zealand and over the years, they have been partners in the progress of the country and are involved in a number of social and community welfare projects.
The last Census placed the share of Muslim population at 1% (about 42,000), tracing their roots to 50 different countries.
New Zealand Muslims are ethnically diverse, tracing their origins to countries in Asia, Africa, America and Europe. Among them are many second and third generation New Zealand born Muslims including Maori.
The community is small compared to other Western nations such as the US, France, Britain, and Germany. Like all early populations in New Zealand, the Muslim community comprised entirely of immigrants.
New Zealand’s first Muslim immigrants were fifteen Chinese gold diggers in Dunstan, the South Island, recorded in the government census of April 1874.
Several Muslim men arrived as migrants in the 1890s and early 1900s.
Gujaratis and Punjabis followed them.
By 1950, New Zealand accounted for 155 Muslims, followed by a boatload of European refugees including 60 Muslims from Albania, Bulgaria and Yugoslavia. Most of them chosen Auckland as the city of their choice.
The 1960s saw the arrival of the first Asian students who were followed in the 1970s by an influx of Indo-Fijians (including a number of Muslims) the majority of whom settled in Auckland.
The following years saw a steady rise in the Muslim population, partly due to the arrival of increasing migrant arrivals and partly due to conversion of people of other faiths to Islam. The ensuing two decades accounted for a sharp rise in the number of Muslims from Fiji and India, soon to become the largest group of Muslims in New Zealand.
In the 1990s, Somali refugees and Middle Eastern immigrants began settling in the main cities along with a large increase in overseas students, including upper level secondary students, university undergraduates and graduate students, and some professionals in specialist courses.
Muslims feel a clear responsibility to ensure their New Zealand experience is as positive as possible.
Geographically New Zealand Muslims are predominantly urban, with the largest number in Auckland and smaller concentrations in Wellington Christchurch, Hamilton, Dunedin, Hastings, Tauranga, New Plymouth, Hawera, Whangarei and Palmerston North.
The management and staff of Indian Newslink extend Ramadan Greetings to their Muslim brothers and sisters and wish them well during the Holy Month.