Content Archived on the Web

This content has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please check our menus for latest news items.

Last modified: 26 Oct 2021 11:08am

A woman in a hijab smiling in front of a cherry tree

One hot day in 2007, Hafsa Ahmed and her family began a one way trip to New Zealand, to complete her PhD at Lincoln University.

She says the change in climate was a bit of a shock.

“I came straight to Christchurch on a winter’s morning from 35 degrees to 11 degrees average. We’ve never experienced, when we were in India anything close to this winter.”

Since then, Hafsa has worked for several different organisations across Canterbury, and now at lectures Lincoln University.

Through the Lady Khadija Charitable Trust she founded five years ago, Hafsa volunteers in the community, taking on projects focusing on social cohesion.

Born into a Muslim family, Hafsa said coming to New Zealand helped her to rediscover her faith.

“When I would travel to Selwyn pretty much every day for my university I would get that time to reflect and that has strengthened me in my faith.”

After the March 15 2019 terrorist attack, Hafsa established a weekly podcast, Open Table, on PlainsFM – talking to people of different faiths, covering a range of difficult topics and finding a common ground.

“For me it’s about grass root level, that we can influence change and allow people to have that reflection. Even with the podcast, it’s not telling them, ‘This is what you need to do’, it’s a conversation so they can listen to it and do that reflection on their own.”

After moving to Selwyn two years ago, Hafsa says she enjoys being away from the busy roads. And while she hasn’t got used to New Zealand’s cold winters, she doesn’t miss the traffic or the hot Indian summers.

“I don’t think I would trade one for the other. I miss it, at times, I’m homesick especially when it’s festival time.You miss the whole experience of festivities… but there are times when we go, oh thank god we are here because summer is like very hot there, you’re hitting 45 degrees!”

You can hear the full podcast interview with Hafsa Ahmed or find more stories from our Faces of Selwyn series on our Faces of Selwyn page.