If anyone can truly empathise with the Muslim community's suffering in the aftermath of the March 15 Christchurch Mosque massacres it's members of the Baha'i faith. Like Muslims, persecution and oppression has dogged them, forcing many from their homeland. Jill Nicholas speaks to one of those people, Rotorua's Arash Alaeinia.
He was only a wee boy when his Baha'i mother fled Iran for sanctuary in the UK but it still rendered Arash a stateless person, one without a passport as have been Muslim Mohabat Khan Malak and Palestinian Nabhi Mansour (Our People, March 23, 2019 and June 8, 2014 respectively).
Arash's father was Muslim, remaining in the family's home city, Abadan, until the Iran-Iraq war erupted in 1980. Abadan's oil refinery, the world's third largest, made it a prime target.
He fled, pitching up in Tehran, a refugee who, like his wife and children, was without travel documents making him unable to join them.
Such a troubled background has given Arash a deeper insight than most into Christchurch Muslims' suffering. It has also strengthened his belief in the Baha'i faith's first tenet – the unity and equality of all people.
That, in turn, has inspired Arash to be the troubeshooter-peacemaker he's become.
Contradictory as the words appear for him are synonymous, influencing his career.
In April he became the Bay of Plenty regional council's catchment adviser, for that read the go-between person for those affected by the controversial plan to reduce nitrogen leaching into the lake.
His role's liaising between them and the council.
Arash literally crossed the road to take on the job. For the previous 18 months he was contracted as senior adviser to the Rotorua Lakes Council's chief executive, a job that came with its share of conflicts to resolve.
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That is Arash Alaeinia in the here and now, what of the years that went before?
For those we have to turn back to his arrival in the UK aged 4. Initially he, his mother and two sisters were directed to Brecon in Wales by the UK's Baha'i spiritual assembly, subsequently moving to Northumberland, an area where, like Wales, Baha'is were thin on the ground.
From high school it was on to Leeds University to study hospitality and institutional management. With a passport finally granted, he took a gap year, spending time in Russia and Siberia promoting the Baha'i faith, teaching English and working on community projects.
"Russia had only recently been opened up, a lot of people hadn't seen foreigners before, they'd poke and touch me, I was a real curiosity to them, they were a real eye opener for me."
With a sister in El Salvador who'd married a Salvadorian, Arash headed there without speaking a word of Spanish. "It wasn't a hardship, I believe there is an international language of purity and love." He continued promoting Baha'i teachings and beliefs.
Back in Britain he worked in a lab, did some chefing and bar work. The latter has an ironical ring to it. Baha'is don't drink but in their all-embracing way doesn't condemn those who do.
From there he joined a hotel chain's management training scheme.
Once qualified, he became conference and beverage manager at London's Swallow International Hotel in Cromwell Rd, an area favoured by OE-ing Kiwis.
They piqued his interest in this country but he parked any thoughts of it for several years as he climbed the hotel management chain.
"In 1999 the time had come for travel, go to a new place and start afresh to see what I could make of myself in a new environment."
Cyprus had been his first choice "It was warm and on the Mediterranean" but he found it too hard to get into so New Zealand it was.
Arriving in Auckland he stayed with a distant cousin before learning the lie of the land, travelling through both islands.
Arash returned to the UK in time to celebrate the millennium, taking work as a chef and hotel duty manager "working every hour God sent to get enough money to come back here [New Zealand]."
While looking for full time work he took an interim job in a mobile phone shop. "I had a really hard time understanding people's accents."
"Real work" came when he was offered the chance to manage Auckland domestic airport's catering outlets, they soon bored him. "It wasn't nearly as challenging as hotels."
They remained his first love and when he spied a vacancy for food and beverage director at Rotorua's then Royal Lakeside Novotel he was here in a flash.
Within days he'd met his future wife, Leigh Gorringe, who also worked "in house".
"We started out as friends, like me she was new to Rotorua." They married in a Baha'i ceremony at Lake Tarawera in 2003.
"She's not Baha'i, she's a Christian, but I often think she is more Baha'i in her heart than I am. She really believes the faith has the answers to the world's and society's problems, to see each other as one people."
The couple's two daughters have been brought up following the Baha'i ways and traditions.
Both girls were UK born, he calls them "Gordies". Arash had taken his wife back for a look see of the area where he grew up. "We were only meant to be there six months, stayed eight years."
Their original plan had been to go to Portugal to experience a different culture but Arash fell into property development. "At the time property values were going up and up." He opened a pizzeria and kebab shop but the couple still hankered for New Zealand, returning in 2009.
There was more temporary work for Arash waiting tables in Auckland until he ran into Rotorua's Ray Cook who'd co-owned the Novotel during Arash's time there.
Ray, ever a man of contacts, put Arash in touch with Marama Resort's owners who appointed him manager. Initially the family lived on site before building their Hamurana home.
Six years on it was time for another job switch and the start of Arash's troubleshooting career, scoring a 12-month contract as change manager with the dental organisation, Luminos, based in Tauranga.
The lakes council appointment followed again for 12 months, but the time frame was pushed out and out again.
Arash's regional council work's in its early stages, he has no illusions it will be easy.
"I don't need to have the project's technical knowledge, it's up to me to get people on side, help them find what support there is for them. A lot involved are friends and former colleagues, most understand changes have to happen, I'm fortunate to have been given this new challenge."
Born: Abadan, Iran, 1970
Education: Prudhoe Village and high schools Wales, Northumberland, Leeds University
Family: Wife Leigh and daughters, Mila , 12, and Farah, 10,
Interests: "Supporting my family, my wife's doing her psychology Masters." Baha'i activities, (vice chairperson local spiritual assembly). "I used to be into judo but asthma stopped it, I'm still involved in Budo Kai martial arts. Reading topical articles to keep up with world current events, new discoveries."
On his life: "Positive, happy."
On Rotorua: "I love it, the people, the environment, the lifestyle."
Personal philosophy: "The Abdu'l Baha quote: 'where there is love nothing is too much trouble and there is always time'."