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NZ Education Ministry Releases Stories to Help Kids Understand Muslims

In an effort to promote unity, diversity, and inclusion, New Zealand’s Ministry of Education has introduced a series of illustrated storybooks developed to support and celebrate New Zealand’s Muslim community.

The new stories, produced in collaboration with the Islamic Women’s Council (IWCNZ), show the diversity and richness of different cultures while highlighting the very human need for love and belonging.

 “’Aya and the Butterfly’, one of the books, is going to be in Arabic language as well as English, and it is the first time the Ministry of Education has published a book in Arabic,” Anjum Rahman, Islamic Women’s Council spokesperson, told Radio New Zealand.

“The ministry is helping young Muslim children to see themselves in this sort of literature.

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“We are really pleased by the support and I think it is interesting for our community to allow more understanding to get people to know us better as well as strengthening our own kids and allowing them to feel secure.”

The decision comes over a year after the Royal Commission on Inquiry into the terrorist attack on the Christchurch mosque.

Aya and the Butterfly, Welcome Home, Open Day at the Mosque, and Ko Wai Au? – Who Am I? are now available on the New Zealand Curriculum Online website. 

“Our Stories is a series of illustrated storybooks that have been developed to support, reflect, and celebrate the Kiwi Muslim community in Aotearoa New Zealand. They are also a way for non-Muslim Kiwis to ‘learn about others, so that they are no longer others,’” New Zealand Curriculum Online website wrote.

NZ Education Ministry Releases Stories to Help Kids Understand Muslims - About Islam

Healing, Resilience

The idea for this series was raised by Dr. Maysoon Salama of the Islamic Women’s Council of New Zealand, and the Ministry of Education, after the terrible events in Christchurch in March 2019, to support wellbeing and inclusion, resilience, and understanding for the Muslim community in Aotearoa.

Rahman noted that one of the stories will be showing people around what’s inside a mosque and that the mosque can be celebrated by the wider community.

“What is interesting about these books is that they are based on Auckland, White Castle, and Christchurch Muslim community,” she added.

Two years have passed since the grim massacre of 51 Muslims in New Zealand’s Christchurch which shook the worldwide.

Christchurch is the largest city in the South Island of New Zealand and the seat of the Canterbury Region.

It is also home to 404,500 residents, making it New Zealand’s 3rd most populous city behind Auckland and Wellington.