Tauranga residents are benefiting from an outreach programme aimed at helping people better understand Muslims, their beliefs and the teachings of Islam.
About 100 locals attended a "Meet a Muslim" free session, which was part of the True Islam Roadshow, and an exhibition of different translations of the Islamic holy scripture the Qur'an at the Greerton Community Hall on April 6.
This event is one part of an outreach programme which was brought to Tauranga for the first time by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama'at New Zealand community.
The project is one of a number of outreach initiatives aimed at dispelling misconceptions about Muslims and Islam which members say often stems from the "fear of the unknown".
Community leader Imam Shafiqur Rehman shared his insights into the teachings of the Qur'an and explained Muslims embrace people of all faiths and cultures.
He also talked about how terrorists manipulate the true peaceful teachings of Islam to justify their crimes and corrupted political agendas.
"Extremists like ISIS thrive on ignorance. As followers of the true Islam faith, we condemn all terrorism, including atrocities by so-called Muslim extremists in the name of Islam."
Rehman said the True Islam campaign promoted better understanding, more tolerance, mutual respect and love between people regardless of their culture, faith or beliefs.
"Our community motto is Love for All, Hatred for None, and that means doing no harm to any human being nor any creature, and living in peace and harmony with everyone."
Among those who took the chance to find out more about Muslims and their beliefs were retired couple Pat and Colin Henderson, from Pyes Pa.
Mrs Henderson said they were inspired to attend the Meet a Muslim session after visiting the Tauranga mosque following the Christchurch shootings.
"Like many other people, we were shocked and saddened by the events on March 15 and I thought the political response not just nationally but across the world was amazing.
"We thought this was a great opportunity to get to know more about these lovely people and their beliefs and better understand the challenges they face," she said.
"After all, they are our neighbours and colleagues and we should get to know them better.
"While I am not particularly religious, I am interested in the wisdom traditions which teach us about tolerance, mutual respect and doing others no harm. I like Imam's message about spreading peace and harmony in the world," she said.
Bryan Winters, of Tauranga, said it was great to be able to ask probing questions.
"It was great to be able to make a connection and start an open dialogue with members of the Muslim community, who I would not have otherwise met," he said.