The first Muslims were Chinese gold diggers who came in 1868. When the industry declined they returned without leaving any Muslim heritage behind. The next Muslims came from India in 1908. In 1951, Muslim refugees from Eastern Europe came to New Zealand.
The first Islamic organization, the New Zealand Muslim Association, was formed in 1950. The Indian and European Muslims built the first Islamic Centre in 1959. The first Imam from India came in 1960. In 1979 the three regional Muslim associations were brought together to create the national Islamic body, the Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand. A Muslim entered the New Zealand Parliament in 1999.
Large-scale Muslim immigration began with the arrival of working class Fiji Indians in the 1970’s. They were followed by professionals after 1987. In the 1990’s many Muslim refugees were admitted under the refugee quota from Somalia, Bosnia, Afghanistan, Iraq and Kosovo. Recently, Muslim students have been coming from Malaysia and Singapore. By 2006, Muslims numbered over 36,000 of 3.7 million people. They comprise over 35 nationalities and include New Zealand-born Muslims including ethnic Pakeha and Maori. Islam is the fastest growing religion among the Maori and a translation of the Qur’aan is being undertaken in te reo, the language of the Maori.