Mair Park in Whangārei, New Zealand, welcomed on April 14 more than 100 people who gathered at a pot luck picnic to not only commiserate with the local Muslim community over last month’s tragedy but to learn more about each other’s culture, NZ Herald reported.
“The participants brought a plate for the event. There was good care of the musical side of things as we played the hammered dulcimer, a crowd favorite,” said American music teacher Kyle Paxton.
“It was awesome to see everyone come together.”
The event was organized by the Northland Muslim Community Charitable Trust in partnership with Bethel Church and the social advocate Carol Peters.
“It’s very important for people from different religions to collaborate and know each other. I am part of the Bethel Church and am honored to be here,” informed Indonesian Bram Pitoyo who moved to Whangārei from Vanuatu in 2017.
“I was amazed at how a little community got together to show their love and affection towards each other. It’s good that the local Muslim community is visible and I hope people don’t easily forget what happened in Christchurch and go back to their shells. I hope they keep extending a hand of friendship in very small ways,” he hopes.
On his behalf, Northland Indian Association chairman, Ralph Correa, described the public gathering as “one big family getting together, with people from all walks of life sharing their food and culture.”
“Words can’t describe how giving people are with their time, good wishes and just the contribution they make for the good of the society in general,” Correa said.
“Gatherings like this are about building bridges of understanding because our commonality is far more than our differences. We all come from the same society,” said one of the guests named Bruce Hancock who met for the first time young Nigina Razzakova from the Muslim Central Asian country of Uzbekistan.
The Muslim Trust treasurer, Shirley Rankin, thanked everyone and encouraged them to continue making an effort to know each other more regularly.
In New Zealand, Islam is a minority religious affiliation, as small numbers of Muslim immigrants from South Asia and eastern Europe settled starting from the early 1900s until the 1960s.
The South Pacific island country of New Zealand is home to 36,000 Muslims, according to the 2006 census. According to Tahir Nawaz, the president of the International Muslim Association of New Zealand, the number of New Zealand’s Muslims has reached almost 60,000 people.