The kindness shown towards a Muslim family that started at the time of the Christchurch mosque attacks has continued during the recent flooding in the district.
The family, who live in Mataura, comprise Mohamed Fauzi, wife Nursyamimi Syazwani Ishak and son Raid Imdad (10).
Mr Fauzi said he was impressed with the way the family were treated after they were evacuated from Mataura and spent two days and a night at the Edendale Christian Activity Centre.
“They know we are Muslim [but] they take care of us,” Mr Fauzi said.
“I didn’t expect like that.”
He deliberately wrote his name Mohamed and not his nickname of Pokka on the register to see what reaction he would get.
However, the people were “very nice”.
The family were the only ones staying at the church who were not from New Zealand.
“Only us foreigner, only us Muslim,” Mrs Fauzi said.
The family took their tent to the church and camped out on the lawn.
The church people made the family very welcome and offered them food, sleeping bags and use of the facilities in the church.
“A lot of food, a lot of drink,” Mrs Fauzi said.
They were very grateful for the help they had received and would like to say “thank you for accept us and treat us like family”.
The family arrived in New Zealand from Malaysia in 2017 and Mr Fauzi is a halal slaughterman at Silver Fern Farms’ Waitane plant.
They had never experienced racism in the time they had been here, they said.
Mrs Fauzi said she had worked out the best way to get along with New Zealanders was to be friendly.
“If they’re not greeting you, you can greet them first.
“Even if they have a grumpy face at first you say ‘hello’and they say ‘hello’.
Although the family had already felt welcome in the community, after the mosque attacks people seemed to make an extra effort to show kindness, Mr Fauzi said.
“After the mosque attack I see more take care.”
The couple were touched by how upset people were after the shooting, Mrs Fauzi said.
“People have empathy and a good heart because I see everyone cry like the victim is their relative.”
Two of the victims of the mosque attacks were known to the family but not well.
After the attacks her friends in Malaysia contacted her and asked if New Zealand people were Islamophobic.
“I made a lot of posts [on social media] to show how good people are here.”
The Nattering Knitters Trust gave the people at the Mataura mosque some hug rugs.
“I will keep it as a reminder of the kindness,” she said.
“It’s a symbol of love.”
The couple have a part-time job delivering The Ensign in Gore and often people would greet them and ask how they were, Mr Fauzi said.
“Sometimes they ask about Islam too.”