Dave Tomu, 55, moved to Auckland from Masvingo, Zimbabwe, in 2000 not long after his first marriage broke up.
Despite being better off back in the African nation where he worked as a photographer, Mr Tomu says New Zealand was a "peaceful haven" and he is happy to be living here.
Living in New Lynn, Mr Tomu works as a real estate agent and gets involved in helping other immigrants from Africa through organisations such as the African Communities Forum.
He said his ex-wife suggested their children moved with him following political unrest in Zimbabwe.
The father of four and grandfather to one believed Africa was still "very much a big mystery" to most Kiwis.
"Many think Africa is one big country and we Africans are all one and the same, and that's a big, big mistake," said Mr Tomu, a past president of the forum.
"Even if they knew Africa is made up of many countries they probably won't be able to tell you how many, or name half of the states."
According to the United Nations, Africa is made up of 54 different nations, including Zimbabwe.
"Within the over 50 African countries you find so many different ethnicities and cultures, even though we are all classified as Africans here," he said.
About 13,500 people who live in New Zealand identify with the African ethnic group, and three-quarters of them were born overseas.
Between 2006 and 2013, the African population here increased by 26.5 per cent, following an increase of 51.5 per cent from 2001 to 2006.
Auckland is home to more than 6300 Africans, or 46.8 per cent of the total, and many live in the Henderson-Massey, Puketapapa and Whau Local Board areas.
Mr Tomu said one reason Kiwis knew little about Africa was because many Africans, who arrived as refugees, did not have the confidence to engage with the wider community.
"That is something we have been trying to address as community leaders, telling these people that although they come as refugees they are no longer refugees when they get here," Mr Tomu said.
"There is a saying - you never hear a butterfly say that it is a recovering caterpillar."
Mr Tomu said Africa Day, held annually in May to celebrate the liberation of all African nations, is an event many in the local community look forward to.
English is the most widely spoken language for Africans here, used by 90.7 per cent, followed by Somali which is used by 9.8 per cent.
Most Africans, or 86.3 per cent, are affiliated with at least one religion, and one in five are Muslims.
The Catholic faith and Pentecostal Christianity are also common religions for many in the group.
Just 11.2 per cent said they had no religion; by comparison, 41.9 per cent of the total New Zealand population did not identify with a faith.
Mr Tomu said many in the community found it hard to find employment or make money in New Zealand. Unemployment in the group had increased from 12.2 per cent in 2006 to 15 per cent in 2013.
The median income was $18,800, and those born in New Zealand had an even lower median of just $13,800.
For the employed, the most common industries they worked in were health care and social assistance (22.7 per cent), retail trade (9 per cent) and manufacturing (4 per cent).
Mr Tomu, like 70 per cent of the group, rents accommodation. Just 17.9 per cent said they owned or partly owned the home they lived in.