Grafton students gain Muslim prayer space

Wāhi Āio, a new quiet space on Grafton Campus was formally opened in a dawn ceremony on Friday 23 July.

Grafton Muslim Prayer Space

Wāhi Āio, a new quiet space on Grafton Campus was formally opened by Michael Steedman on Friday 23 July, much to the delight of Campus Life and the University Muslim chaplaincy.

Creating spaces that meet a variety of student needs is one of the many ways the Student Engagement team look to improve the on-campus experience for students, and the creation of Wāhi Āio Grafton Campus is a great example of how some of those varying needs can be met.

While being a space for meditation and reflection, Wāhi Āio is predominantly a place for Muslim prayers and allows for the congregation of the University Muslim community. The new multifunctional space came to life thanks to the help of Matt Ballentine from Property Services.

Shahela Qureshi, the University’s Muslim chaplain, described the journey to this point as a long one, and acknowledged how amazing it was for University staff and students to gather at a Dawn Blessing Service to officially open this important student space.

“Having everyone present and concluding the ceremony with our Fajr (dawn) congregational prayer was truly wonderful” she said.

“The Māori model of Te Whare Tapa Wha reminds us how important Taha Wairau is, and without which a house cannot stand.

“In Islam one of the pillars of our faith and cornerstone of our spiritual health is the five daily prayers. So, having a space like this, and in other places across the University, are necessities for the well-being of Muslim students and staff, and not just a nice-to-have.”

Shahela thanked everyone involved at the University, the Chaplaincy, and the wider community.

Student Engagement and the wider Campus Life team understand that being with a culture, faith, student group, or a sports team can make a significant difference to a student’s ability to remain at University and succeed academically. The Grafton quiet space will now enable students, and staff members, to practice daily prayers easily and contribute to a sense of belonging to the University.