A new meat shop is filling a "niche in the market" with aims of catering to a growing Muslim community in Rotorua.
Emire Amira Khan-Malak and her husband Mohabat Khan Malak have opened Marhaba Halal Meats, on the corner of Ranolf and Devon Sts.
Mrs Khan-Malak said she was excited, nervous and overwhelmed to open the store.
She said the need for locally-available halal meat was growing. The shop was for the whole Bay of Plenty, she said.
Mrs Khan-Malak said the shop would also sell other condiments from Arabic countries, and things that until now could not be found in Rotorua.
At this stage, they were starting as a retail butchery of processed meats and planned to expand into making sausages, marinated meats and other cuts of meat in the store in February.
"We have had wonderful support from the community. It's been wonderful."
The couple were surrounded by family at the official opening today.
They were also joined by Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick, Rotorua MP Todd McClay, Margriet Theron from the Rotorua Multicultural Council and representatives from WITSA at Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology.
Rotorua Muslim Association president Ayhan Semiz said Rotorua had visitors coming from other countries who asked about halal meat and where they could get it. He would now direct them to this shop, he said.
In the 2013 Census, 168 people in Rotorua identified as Muslim.
Mr Semiz said the community was growing slowly and he estimated between 40 and 50 Muslim families now lived in Rotorua.
He had noticed when Muslims settled in Rotorua they did not often stay long term, as they seemed to go where this type of service was easily accessible.
He said this could be good for the growth of Rotorua and perhaps would help to keep these people in the city.
Mrs Chadwick said the new shop was filling "a real niche in the market".
She said she was aware the number of Muslim visitors and residents was growing and shops such as Marhaba Halal Meats were symbolic of the diversity in the city.
Mr McClay said it was a great occasion and he thought the shop would be a great success.
"It's an investment by local people into the local economy and it's an investment in local people."
- Halal is meat that Muslims are allowed to eat according to Islamic law.
- The laws require that only certain types of meat can be eaten and that meat must be prepared in a certain way.
- It is also essential that halal food is not prepared with non-halal food as there is a risk of cross contamination.
- The word 'halal' literally means permissible - and in translation it is usually used as lawful.