Queen’s Birthday weekend saw 80 Muslim women gather in Auckland’s Viaduct Harbour for the precinct’s first ever ‘habibti’ event, a lunch dedicated to the Muslim community, specifically young wāhine.
Latifa Daud, an accessibility consultant for the Viaduct precinct and one of the event’s organisers alongside Yordanos Berhane of the club night Looped and Sauce founder and creative director Zeenat Wilkinson, reminded the beautifully dressed guests who filled the seats of QT's restaurant Esther that they were there to share not only an afternoon of halal Middle-Eastern-inspired cuisine but also to celebrate a collective kaupapa.
“The last few years have been extremely difficult for the New Zealand Muslim community. Only one year after we experienced a huge trauma and loss, while we were still making sense of it, we were asked to retreat into our homes to prevent further loss. During that time for some of us, our homelands were ravaged by war, genocide, land grabs, and intolerance. This is a lot to digest in one go, and I want to acknowledge that, and all that we as Muslim women sit with every single day.”
“I wanted to be part of this event so we can start to rebuild our connections with each other in this setting. To eat with people you wouldn’t usually eat with from a place of care and sisterhood. Whatever our differences outside of this room, we are all bonded by our shared beliefs, and experiences as Muslim women in Aotearoa.”
For Sauce’s Wilkinson, the event was an opportunity for both reflection and collaboration. “It was important for me because this, in a way, is me connecting with my heritage, culture and the wonderful young creative women within the muslim community that are doing incredible things,” she says.
“Middle Eastern and Muslim women are often stereotyped as ‘oppressed’ whilst being misrepresented in the fashion realm. This event truly showcased our unique and individual style. A much more accurate representation of Muslim women and our unique identities and cultural heritage.”
To that end, Muslim talent was front and foremost and $5 from each ticket sale will be donated to Auckland-based Khadija Leadership Network. Graphic designer Aakfia Chida designed the impressive hand-drawn ‘Oasis’ logo in Arabic calligraphy, candle-maker Masala Scents created an exclusive gulab jaamun scent for guests to take home and Ashleigh Ali-Aziz built the spectacular floral arrangements.