An exhibition of photographs and the narratives of the subjects themselves will help shine a light on Islam in New Zealand.

Percy Thomson Gallery director, Rhonda Bunyan, says she rediscovered The Crescent Moon: The Asian Face of Islam in New Zealand earlier this year.

Rhonda says she was searching for a suitable exhibition to provide a vehicle for quiet reflection following the Christchurch mosque shootings and remembered the work featured in Crescent Moon.

"This exhibition has been resurrected after several years in storage, and it couldn't be a more opportune time. I knew it would be perfect for the feelings I wished to convey, that as New Zealanders we can embrace both equality and diversity, if we dispel fear and misunderstanding."


Rhonda says members of Taranaki's Muslim community have been invited to the opening event, on Saturday, August 17.

The Crescent Moon: The Asian Face of Islam in New Zealand features a series of photographs by New Zealand photographer Ans Westra and personal stories from 37 individuals of Muslim faith, written by Adrienne Jansen.

Ans and Adrienne will be giving a floor talk at the gallery on Sunday, August 18, says Rhonda.

The forerunner to the exhibition, a book with the same title, was published in 2009. Commissioned by the Asia New Zealand Foundation, the book was designed to address misconceptions and stereotypes that had arisen about Islam, particularly since the September 11 attacks of 2001.

Westra and Jansen travelled the country with camera and tape recorder to interview subjects who shared their thoughts about the media, about 9/11, about identity and faith – but mostly they just shared their own lives.

The Muslim New Zealanders profiled range from fourth-generation New Zealanders to new migrants from Asia – and are ethnically, culturally, theologically and professionally diverse.

This book, and the accompanying exhibition, were created to open up dialogue and lead to greater understanding of Islam to the benefit of all. The Asia New Zealand Foundation considers this purpose to clearly still be as relevant today as it was a decade ago.

Crescent Moon is joined by a second exhibition, which also explores the concept of community.


Taranaki artist and printmaker Antonia O'Mahony's exhibition Tell It Again: Repetitions from the Archive focuses on the western New Plymouth suburb of Moturoa where her family has lived for many generations. The work is part of her Master of Fine Arts thesis.

Moturoa is a suburb where industry butts up against the residential. Its unique characters and ramshackle structure led it to be nicknamed Tiger Town. Antonia reflects on a community's everyday activities using source imagery from personal and historical archives.

'I wanted to uncover some of the subtleties of this uniqueness. The best place to uncover the nature of this hard-working, hard-living community I remembered was through its ordinariness. The repetition of the everyday that is both specific and universal."

Antonia uses printmaking as the art medium, saying hand-based print mediums such as etching, lithography and woodcut are heavily invested in process.

"Investigations into subject are slowed to a pace that channels its centuries-old history and the lineage of artists who have used it to express their ideas. It is alchemy, it is repetition, it is labour, it is contemplation on surprise revelations, and it is an instinctive pursuit to the heart of subject and process via the paper and plate.

"I have used its methodology to draw an analogy to the repetitions of daily life and to build a narrative of sorts that speaks of the both universal ordinary and that which is specific to this community."

Antonia's research is supported by Puke Ariki Trust.

The tandem exhibitions open on Saturday, August 17 at 1pm. The Westra and Jansen floor talk takes place on Sunday, August 18 at 1pm. All welcome.