The Islamic Center of Whangarei has held an ‘open mosque day’ where over 100 people from different faiths turned out on an overcast weekend to commiserate with the Muslim community of New Zealand’s northernmost city, NZ Herald reported on April 1.
“Some families traveled from as far south as Auckland and as far north as Kaikohe to not only share in the sorrow of the New Zealander Muslims but to learn more about Islam itself,” an organizer said.
The Northland Muslim Community Charitable Trust opened its doors on Saturday, March 30 from 2 pm to 6 pm for people from all walks of life in Whangarei which has a population of 58,800 according to 2018 estimates.
“Regardless of faith, women participants and visitors wore hijabs as a mark of respect and enjoyed light refreshments while chatting with members of the Islamic trust,” one of the organizers informed.
The Holy Qur’an and pamphlets about the Islamic way of life were handed out and a group from an Islamic trust from Auckland were on hand to answer questions about the Muslim faith.
Police stood guard at the entrance to the center on Porowini Ave for the duration of the open day. Northern Advocate chief photographer John Stone went along and snapped these pictures.
Whangarei is the regional capital of Northland Region. It’s part of the Whangarei District, a local body created in 1989 from the former Whangarei City, Whangarei County, and Hikurangi Town councils, to administer both the city proper and its hinterland.
In 2001, the city’s population was estimated to 47,000. The Māori iwi Ngāpuhi tribes settled in Whangarei since the early 19th century, and the Te Parawhau hapū community lived at the head of the city’s harbor.
The majority of the city’s population are Christians but a minority of native Maori Muslims and Muslim immigrants inhabit the city as well.
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 number of Maori Muslims grew rapidly by the end of the 20th century to 1,074 at the 2006 census, this equals 0.19% of the Maori population.
Islam is estimated to be the fastest growing religion among Māori. The national census figures show the number of Muslims of Māori ethnicity increasing from 99 to 708 in the 10 years to 2001, and to 1,083 by 2013 census data.