Tag Archives: Brief History of Muslims in New Zealand

About Muslims in New Zealand

“The first Muslim family arrived in 1854. Wuzerah, his wife and sons, came to the Canterbury plains in the employ of Sir John Cracroft Wilson, an Anglo-Indian civil servant and colonist. Cracroft Wilson named his property “Cashmere” after the “Kashmir” province of British India, and Wuzerah and his family lived their entire lives there.

In the 1870s Chinese “Mahometan” gold-miners were reported in Otago, in the government census records. In the 1890s Ahad Baksh Malik, an Indian hawker, became an important economic lifeline for farmers in remote sheep stations in the mountains of Otago.

Saleh Mahomet from Turkmenistan settled in Christchurch in 1905, married a Pakeha wife, and became a popular ice-cream salesman in Cathedral Square. He was known popularly as “Ice-cream Charlie”.
In 1951 the IRO ship MS Goya brought thousands of refugees from eastern Europe and dozens of Muslim men from Yugoslavia and Albania entered New Zealand thus. Several of these men settled in Christchurch. Around the same time many international students from Asia arrived to attend tertiary institutions and they too made a contribution to the growth of the Muslim community.

In 1977 the number of Muslims in Canterbury reached a point where a formal Association could be registered and set up. Three years later the Muslim Association of Canterbury bought a house for use as an Islamic Centre – the first place of Muslim prayer in the South Island – and in August 1985 the construction of the first purpose-built mosque was completed.”
– History courtesy of Abdullah Drury. Drury is a Pakeha convert to Islam & author of “Islam in New Zealand: A Short History of the New Zealand Muslim Association.”

There was an influx of Indo-Fijians (a large minority of whom are Muslims) in the 1970s, mostly into Auckland. In the 1990s Somalis and Middle Eastern people began arriving in the main cities. There’s been a steady trickle of converts to Islam since the 1970s.

– The attached images are of the Canterbury Mosque in Christchurch (2006). Built over 1984–85, it was the world’s southernmost mosque until 1999.

The mosque was renovated in late 2018. Sadly, the new carpets & clean walls now bear the bloodied marks of worshippers…