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Understanding Muslim identity in Aotearoa


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Tāhūrangi is the new online curriculum hub for Te Tāhuhu o te Mātauranga | Ministry of Education.

These resources (years 1–10) unpack the Know context (Ngā ahurea me ngā tuakiri kiritōpū | Cultures and collective identities) in relation to two videos – Anzar's Story and Nurah and Hamza's Story – that tell about their experiences growing up as Muslims in Aotearoa New Zealand.

The suggested activities are intended as examples to support students to understand important ideas about the cultures and collective identities of Muslim people in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Students will use the skills they have developed through these learning experiences to find out about the stories of Muslim groups in their own communities and promote social cohesion.

Revisiting the same concepts and skills in different contexts supports students to develop their abilities in the Do practices in more complex and critical ways, which in turn deepens their understanding of the Big ideas. 

Anzar’s story

Anzar at home

Anzar, voiceover

My name is Anzar. I’m a Kiwi, born and raised in New Zealand. I'm ten years old and I'm a Muslim.

Anzar’s home; making breakfast

My dad usually wakes me up at, like, somewhere around 7:30. I get out of bed. I just wash my hands, have a drink of water, and then eat cereal. I have milk and water. 

Walking to school

Then at 8am, I go to my friend's house and then we walk together to school.  

The prayers in the morning is at like 6:00 or 5:00am. I don't do that prayer. 

Anzar praying at home

The prayer time I usually pray is, it's called Maghrib and it's when the sun goes down and the moon comes up.

Praying is for us, it's like a communication with God, like, ask for forgiveness, for us to do the right things, 

Anzar and his mother praying

…to help all of those in, like, need; keep the bad stuff out of our way. I feel, like, comfortable doing it and it makes me feel like, yeah, this is a nice thing to do.

Images of the mosque

I go to the mosque on Fridays if I don't have school. I go with my, like, brother and dad.

Study and prayer at the mosque

And for like the Sunday class, I just do the history, like just learning about what happened when Islam first arrived and stuff like that.

Anzar and his sister studying online

On weekends, my brother, my sister and I, we do classes online with a teacher on Skype. And we just read Arabic, do like bits of our prayers. 

Anzar and friends playing sport

I have a lot of friends. Only one of them is Muslim, but he's a nice friend to me. And my friends they’re like a big part of me. We usually play some sort of sport, maybe like handball, four square, football, sometimes maybe cricket. 

Anzar playing online games

We can like, maybe just after school, just hop on a call, just play some online games.

I do another sport, futsal. It's fun because.. 

Anzar playing futsal

…I'm in a team with my school friends, and they're pretty good. So it's enjoyable because you know the people around you and like you get fit because it's a sports game. 

Anzar and friends playing sport

They just see me as like another friend, just like their friend that they can play with, who they can trust.

I haven't experienced any of, like, 

Anzar, brother and mother preparing food

…someone excluding me because I'm Muslim. I just feel safe here. I hear people, like, make Islam jokes, but I don't really think much about it because that's the way they think. 

Anzar and his siblings

But we just live our lives and I don't really intrude them.

Images of Newtown School

My teachers, they do a great job. Like, when we have a sausage sizzle, 

Anzar and his teacher

…they always buy like halal sausages, so Muslims can enjoy it.

The way I want to be treated is the way everyone else gets treated.

Anzar and his father

I don't want to be downgraded or upgraded. 

Anzar playing sport at home

I just want to be a normal student, a normal classmate, just a normal person. Someone you'd like, you see one person, see another, and you see a Muslim. 

Anzar at home

They're all the same. Like everyone's treated equally. I'm proud of being Muslim.

Nurah and Hamza’s story

Nurah on trampoline

Nurah, voiceover

Hi. My name is Nurah. I'm seven years old. My mum is from Egypt. My dad is from South Africa.

Hamza playing with siblings

Hamza, voiceover

Hello. My name’s Hamza. I'm a Muslim in New Zealand. I was born in Cairo, in Egypt. I have four siblings, and I've lived in New Zealand for 11 years. And I'm 14.

Nurah playing and reading

Nurah, voiceover

Yeah, I like singing and I like dancing; and I love reading. 

Nurah making cards at school

I like writing and drawing. And I have fun making cards for people. 

Nurah singing; Hamza laughing

My big, older brother, he hates me singing around. He goes like, “I've got bleeding ears”, but I don't really care about that. I just keep singing, so I could just annoy him cause he always annoys me.

Hamza playing football

Hamza, voiceover

I like to play football and futsal, and I do Taekwondo. And I like to do drawing sometimes. 

Hamza at Taekwondo

I do Taekwondo at Legacy, and I’m a blue stripe there. 

Hamza’s morning routine

Well, I wake up early in the morning to pray – Fajr – which is the morning prayer.

Nurah’s morning routine

Nurah, voiceover

I wake up from my bed. I take Wudu. Wudu is like cleaning yourself before you pray.

Nurah praying

I pray the morning prayer – Fajr – and then I finish praying. 

Nurah eating breakfast; leaving for school

I go eat breakfast and once I'm ready for school, I get my bag, go and get in the car, and I'm off to school. 

Nurah praying with family

I sometimes pray with my big brother and we sometimes all pray together – my mum, my dad and me, and my big brother. We're trying to get my little brother to come and pray with us, but he doesn't want to. So when he’s five, we’re gonna probably going to try to get him to pray with us.

Hamza’s younger brother

Hamza, voiceover

You have to be focused and stuff and not look around. It was hard for me when I was like seven. That's when you’re meant to start praying. 

Hamza and his father praying

There’s five prayers daily: the morning one before sunrise is called Fajr; there's one at noon, which is called Dhuhr; there's one in the afternoon called Asr; there's one before [at] sunset, it’s called Maghrib; and then there's one at night called Ishaa.

Nurah dressing for prayer

Nurah, voiceover

And I've got my own little scarf that blocks my hair, and I've got something that will keep me from seeing my legs and my arms. 

Nurah in hijab at the mosque

I wear a hijab when I go to my after-school class, the madrassa. And when I go to the mosque.

Prayer at the mosque

On the holidays, I wear it when I'm going to the Jumah, 

Nurah in hijab, studying

…and I wear it when I pray. And it makes me feel very happy. My mum and dad say it looks very pretty on me. Sometimes they can come in colour, sometimes they can come in black, but I don't really like the black colour.

Family home; family eating breakfast

Hamza, voiceover

Ramadan is a month in Islam where you fast for 30 days. So everyday you would wake up early and then eat, and then you wouldn't eat until sunset. And then you do that everyday for 30 days. 

Family photos; preparation for Eid

Then after that there'd be Eid, which is a celebration. And you get together with family and you see friends, and sometimes there's events and you give gifts.

Nurah studying at the mosque

Nurah, voiceover

I go to the mosque and I do have after-school classes and it's madrassa. I'm not with a Qur’an yet. I have a different kind of book, it's called a Qaai'da. We have other books like Du’a and Hadith. And I really quite enjoy it because I've got some friends from school who go to it too.

Hamza playing football; at school

Hamza, voiceover

At school I have like, half of my friend group is Muslim and half of them are not. My non-Muslim friends, they do understand what being Muslim is. Sometimes I do feel excluded, like people sometimes making jokes and saying, ah like 911 jokes or just stereotypes about like all Muslims having beards and from Arab countries and stuff.

Nurah at school

Nurah, voiceover

Sometimes I feel a little bit different because they make me feel, like, very different when I do different things, like that of them.

Prayer at the mosque

Hamza, voiceover

The stereotypes people make, it's not true. For example, the one that, like, Muslims are from Arab countries. That's not true either. A lot of Muslims are in Indonesia, there's like a lot of them. And there's a lot in Asia, and there's a lot in, like, every race and country. 

Images of texts from home

People need to learn more about Islam enough to respect it. They don't have to learn, like, too much about it, but they can learn a little bit enough to respect it.

Nurah studying; presenting to her class 

Nurah, voiceover

I would rather probably bring my Qur’an into school, and then I could show, tell them about it and tell them what page I'm on. 

Nurah feeding classroom fish

And I would like them to know about praying. And if they made a prayer room in my classroom, that'd be really cool, because then I could pray Dhuhr, the afternoon prayer. 

Nurah playing with friends

I wish they would know about the Qur’an and stuff, so then we could talk more about it.

Hamza and family finishing prayer

Hamza, voiceover

Muslims are also, like, the same as other people. They just do things a bit differently.

Teacher support materials

Anzar and his teacher.

Year 1–3

Year 4–6

Nurah writing.

Year 7–8

Year 9–10

This resource is designed to support social cohesion in Aotearoa New Zealand by teaching about Muslims who call Aotearoa New Zealand home.

These tips are designed for teachers who want to support Muslim students in the classroom to feel safe, included, and that they belong.


  • Students who request to perform their daily prayers during school time may require a clean, quiet, private place to do so. Parents may appreciate the support for their children to pray when needed (for example, at camps).
  • Prayer times vary according to the position of the sun and will change with daylight savings and as daylight hours change throughout the year.
  • Friday midday prayer is a special weekly prayer, which is an obligation on Muslim males. Some older students (for example, 12-years-old and above) may want to pray Friday midday prayers at the local mosque. Teachers could have a conversation with whānau if these students miss lessons because of the Friday prayers and provide opportunities for them to catch up on lessons as required.
  • Please understand that if prayers or karakia that refer to particular deities are recited at school, Muslim students may prefer not to participate. It is good practice to consider alternatives that are inclusive for all ākonga.


  • Consider how you can ensure the learning in your school is inclusive for all students. For example, there are Muslim girls who do not want to wear togs in front of boys when swimming.
  • Muslims in Aotearoa New Zealand are very diverse and each family will have different expectations and desires for their children. This may be influenced by the education systems they are familiar with. So it is important not to make assumptions.
  • As the teacher, you will know your students well and will identify those who are Muslims. Some students will be very happy to share their experiences and beliefs, while others will prefer not to. It is good practice to check in with Muslim students and their whānau before teaching this resource to find out what they would like to occur during the learning experiences.


  • Muslims have high regard towards teachers. Most Muslim families would love to meet with their child’s teacher to discuss how best to support their child.
  • Muslims in Aotearoa New Zealand are very diverse and their practices or interpretation of Islamic guidelines may differ based on their backgrounds, cultures, family traditions and personal choices. It is important not to make presumptions.
  • Many Muslims have particular rules for interactions across gender. When meeting whānau of a different gender, please note that some people may choose not to have physical contact such as handshaking. A good practice is to pause and let the whānau member lead. If they prefer not to shake hands, you could smile and greet them with “Assalaamu alaykum”, pronounced like “us-sah-lahm ah-laykom” (meaning "peace be upon you"), while holding your hand over your heart. Muslims may also avoid direct eye contact as a sign of respect while still listening to what you are saying.
  • Many of your students’ families may have a dominant or preferred language other than English. When meeting or communicating with these whānau, considerations should be given to language and whether translations and interpreting support may be needed. Schools can use their ESOL-funding or if relevant, refugee-funding to access paid interpreting services. It is not advisable to rely on their children as interpreters.


  • Many Muslims eat halal food, which is food prepared in accordance with Islamic guidelines. Ensure any food provided in the classroom or school has halal options, or offer halal alternatives (for example, vegan, vegetarian, seafood, kosher). This may exclude some food, for example, lollies that have non-halal gelatine. Many cities in Aotearoa New Zealand have halal butcheries that could provide halal products (for example, sausages for sausage sizzles), which would also meet the needs of a wide range of ākonga.

Religious rituals and events

  • Ramadan is a month on the Islamic calendar, observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting, prayer, reflection, and community. During Ramadan, many Muslims choose to fast from food and liquids during daylight hours. They may also be very busy after school hours during this month as it is a time of prayer, fellowship, and worship. Students who fast may prefer not to partake in physical activity and may have less energy than usual. Scheduling school events that involve food during the month of Ramadan may exclude some Muslim whānau and ākonga. At the end of Ramadan, Muslim communities will celebrate Eid (a day of celebration to mark the end of Ramadan), and would likely see Muslim students away from school. 
  • Some Muslim whānau and ākonga may hesitate to participate in school celebrations or other holidays, such as Christmas, Easter and Halloween.

Further support

For an opportunity to read and learn more about Islam:

For language and interpretation support:

Schools can also contact their local (regional) Ministry office and ask for Senior Adviser, Refugee Migrant Support, if you’d like further advice on how to connect with whānau.

  • Allah: The Arabic word for God, used by Muslims to refer to the one and only God.
  • Arabic: The language used for religious and sacred purposes in Islam, as it is the language in which the Qur’an was revealed to the prophet Muhammad.
  • Asr: One of the five daily prayers performed by Muslims, which takes place in the afternoon.
  • Assalaamu alaykum: A common Arabic greeting that means “peace be upon you”. The response to this greeting is "Wa alaykum assalaam", meaning “and upon you be peace”.
  • Dhuhr: One of the five daily prayers performed by Muslims, which takes place just after noon.
  • Du'a: A prayer or supplication made to God in Islam.
  • Eid: A Muslim holiday that celebrates the end of Ramadan, the month of fasting. There is also another Eid at the time of the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
  • Fajr: One of the five daily prayers performed by Muslims, which takes place just before dawn.
  • Hadith: A collection of sayings and actions of the prophet Muhammad, which serve as a source of guidance and inspiration for Muslims.
  • Hajj: The annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca. Muslims should perform this once in their lifetime if they are physically and financially able to undertake it safely.
  • Halal: Refers to food, drink, and other products that are considered permissible under Islamic law.
  • Haram: Actions or behaviours considered forbidden/sinful in Islam, such as consuming alcohol or pork, gambling, etc.
  • Hijab: A headscarf worn by Muslim women as a sign of modesty and religious observance.
  • Ishaa: One of the five daily prayers performed by Muslims, which takes place in the evening.
  • Islam: The religion of Muslims, based on the belief in one God and the teachings of the prophet Muhammad.
  • Jumah: The congregational prayer that Muslims perform on Fridays, which replaces the regular Dhuhr prayer.
  • Kosher: Refers to food that is prepared according to Jewish dietary laws.
  • Madrassa: A Muslim school/after-school programme where children learn about Islam, the Qur’an, and Arabic.
  • Maghrib: One of the five daily prayers performed by Muslims, which takes place just after sunset.
  • Mosque/Masjid: A place of worship for Muslims, where they gather to pray and learn about their religion.
  • Muslim: A person who practices the religion of Islam.
  • Prophet Muhammad: The founder of Islam, who Muslims believe received revelations from Allah and transmitted them to humanity.
  • Qaai'da: A reader series for learning to read Arabic.
  • Qur’an: The holy book of Islam, believed by Muslims to be the word of God as revealed to Muhammad.
  • Ramadan: The month in the Islamic calendar during which Muslims fast from dawn to sunset, as a way to purify themselves spiritually.
  • Sunnah: The way of life and teachings of the prophet Muhammad, as recorded in Islamic tradition.
  • Wudu: The Islamic practice of ritual washing before prayer, to purify oneself spiritually and physically.
  • Zakat: The Islamic practice of giving a portion of one's wealth to charity, as a way of fulfilling one's religious obligation to help the poor and needy.