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Somalis In New Zealand Fighting Prejudice With Buraanbur

Veil of Secrecy lifted on Somali Community

In a national first, one of New Zealand’s newest and most misunderstood communities is the focus of a social photography project due to open at the Waikato Museum on December 3.

The show, entitled ‘Rare View’, explores Hamilton’s Somali community through a series of large photographs and personal items.

The show, which features on TV One’s Close Up at 7 this week, has been a collaborative effort between the Waikato Museum, photographer Mark Hamilton and the community itself.

In light of attacks on a mosque and the forced closure of a business that employed many Somali in Hamilton, the community were keen to show New Zealanders that they have to earn a living, go to school, cook dinner and beat their class mate at soccer, just like everyone else, but in ways that are true to their cultural heritage.

As a result of being involved in this project, the show’s concept leader and curator Crystal Ardern has shared meals with the community, gone to the mosque and attended a Somali wedding.

Being young, Mormon and female, Ardern identifies with being stereotyped, particularly when it comes to belonging to a community built around a strong faith.

‘I was determined to tell the stories of this community. Putting this exhibition together was never going to be a case of just turning up, pointing a camera and shooting’ says Ardern.

‘While it has been a personal privilege to be afforded my own ‘Rare View’, I hope the exhibition will be of benefit to the Somali community and challenge the wider population.’

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