New Zealand’s 'Crescent Moon' travels to Indonesia

17 May 2013

A photographic exhibition of Asian New Zealanders of Muslim faith is to go on display at Jakarta’s State Islamic University – Universitas Islam Negeri (UIN) Syarif Hidayatullah.

The Crescent Moon: The Asian Face of Islam in New Zealand features images and the personal stories of 37 individuals – including two Indonesian New Zealanders.

New Zealand writer Adrienne Jansen and acclaimed documentary photographer Ans Westra travelled the country to create The Crescent Moon. The exhibition and accompanying book were commissioned by the Asia New Zealand Foundation.

Ms Jansen will be travelling to Jakarta for the exhibition opening at the UIN on Tuesday 21 May, and will share her experiences researching and writing the book. The exhibition coincides with the university’s 40th anniversary.  It will be opened by MP Maurice Williamson, who is visiting Indonesia with a large New Zealand business delegation from a range of industry sectors.

The Foundation commissioned The Crescent Moon to increase understanding of New Zealand’s Asian Muslim communities, and to encourage greater dialogue and interaction.  The photographic exhibition toured New Zealand between 2009 and 2011. The UIN exhibition is the first time The Crescent Moon will have shown outside of New Zealand.

The Muslim New Zealanders profiled in the book and exhibition range from fourth-generation New Zealanders to new migrants from Asia – and are ethnically, culturally, theologically and professionally diverse. Lawyers, farmers, accountants, computer trainers and butchers all feature.

The interview subjects share their thoughts about the media, about 9/11, about identity and faith – but mostly they just talk about themselves.

Ms Jansen says she is proud to have been involved with the book, and that it remains relevant in 2013.

“This is the sort of project that has kept generating conversations. I think conversations are what change people really.”

Asia New Zealand Foundation director of culture Jennifer King says the first Muslims to arrive in New Zealand were Chinese gold miners in the 1870s. “Muslims from Asia make up the largest proportion of Muslims in the world, and they are an integral part of the fabric of New Zealand society too.”

By the time of the last census in 2006, New Zealand had more than 36,000 people identifying as Muslim – most of whom hailed from Asia.

The book is also used as a teaching resource in New Zealand schools, helping students gain understanding of cultural interactions in New Zealand and the migration experiences of Asian Muslims.

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