“As a proud Maori woman from Ngati Porou, it is ironic to be told to “Go home to your own country”. People assume that because I wear the Hijab (head scarf) and am easily identifiable as a Muslim, that New Zealand is not my home. I grew up on the East Coast, where I experienced violence and abuse. This led to me feeling the need to escape, which I did by getting married in my teens and embracing Islam.
When my marriage broke down years later, I struggled to find services that understood who I was as a Muslim woman. Following my own experience I co founded the Fatimah Foundation, to support women like me. Life has educated me through my early trials and sad experiences. Although it wasn’t an academic education, these experiences have brought me to where I am today. I am less judgmental and more empathetic because of them. When I work with our women I understand them, because I have had a little bit of all of their experiences.”