A woman whose family had to flee war-torn Kurdistan before she was born is making it her mission to help her people in her homeland.

Ashleigh Ali, 27, was born in Pakistan, where her parents first escaped to, and moved to New Zealand as refugees in 1997.

"My heart will always be with Kurdistan and that's where my blood ties are," she said.
"I see myself in the future living in Kurdistan, if not for good, then at least for a few years ... teaching or starting up a business."

Ali, who works at AUT University and is pursuing her doctorate, is registering a charity called "Helping the torn land - from NZ to Kurdistan".


The group, started jointly with another Kurdish refugee, Kajal Alawi, is aimed at helping victims of war rebuild their lives.

Proceeds from projects, such as a night market taking place at the Avondale Community Centre this Saturday will go to the female victims of war in Kurdistan.

"I want to be in a position where I can ensure the funds go to my people," Ali said.

She said the group had already sent the proceeds from an earlier project to help facilitate a summer school in the town of Sinjar for children.

"This time proceeds will go towards providing necessities for the women who are victims of war," Ali said.

"I want to use my knowledge and life experiences that I have gained here to give back to my homeland," Ali said.

Ali plans to travel to Kurdistan and is working with another non-governmental organisation, Humanity, to do so.

Ali says she hopes to join in the fight to establish an independent Kurdistan.


Since 1970, Iraqi Kurdistan has had an autonomous status which was reconfirmed in 2005 by the federal Iraqi republic.

Two years ago, Islamic State attacked Sinjar where most of Kurdistan's Yazidi religious minority live.

Thousands were killed, and many others who escaped the massacre fled for their lives into the mountains.

Ali said many have started to return to the town after Kurdish fighters regained control.

"Many women in remote villages of Kurdistan are suffering while trying to make ends meet due to the war," she said.

Saturday's event will be a "Enterprise Market Evening", in collaboration with the Fatimah Foundation, and entry is by a gold coin donation.

"The idea here is to give these ladies in Auckland an opportunity to give their business exposure while at the same time raising funds," Ali said.

"The donations will go to those women who have either lost their homes due to war or lost their husbands or sons at war."

In New Zealand, 717 people identified with the Kurd ethnic group at the last census.
Three in four, or 76.6 per cent of Kurds live in the Auckland region, followed by Waikato (13.4 per cent) and Canterbury (6.7 per cent).

Of those living in Auckland, the majority lived in the Henderson-Massey (21.9 per cent), Papakura (20.2 per cent) and Manurewa (18.6 per cent) Local Board areas.