Mazhar Krasniqi

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Mazhar Krasniqi
Мажар Краснићи/Mažar Krasnići
Sheikh Airot, Imam of Ponsonby Mosque, and Mazhar Shukri Krasniqi, Q.S.M..jpg
Sheikh Airot, Imam of Ponsonby Mosque (Auckland, New Zealand), and Mazhar Shukri Krasniqi, Q.S.M. Venue: Silver Jubilee celebrations of the Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand (FIANZ), 16 November 2005, Parliament House, Wellington, New Zealand.
Personal details
Born Mazhar Shukri Krasniqi
October 17 1931
Pristina, Kingdom of Yugoslavia
Nationality New Zealander (Formerly Yugoslavian)
Religion Islam

Mazhar Shukri Krasniqi (Serbian: Мажар Краснићи/Mažar Krasnići, born 1931), is a New Zealand Muslim community leader of Kosovar Albanian descent. He was the first president of the Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand (FIANZ) in 1979 and a human rights activist.


Mazhar Shukri Krasniqi, son of Shukri Krasniqi and Aisha Minushi, was born on 17 October 1931 in Pristina, Kingdom of Yugoslavia - in present-day Kosovo[a]. In 1950 he fled Communist Yugoslavia and sailed for New Zealand on board the refugee boat SS Goya. He arrived destitute in Wellington on 1 May 1951 and started to work at a variety of jobs throughout the decade including farming in Southland, and steam drilling around the Waikato and Bay of Plenty regions.

On 1 January 1956 he attended the '1st Moslem Congress' organised by the nascent New Zealand Muslim Association (NZMA) and became an extremely active member of the Executive Committee, of which he remained a member up to his retirement in 1992. He served as president twice, in 1975 and again in 1987.

In 1960 Krasniqi set up a restaurant named Albania in Panmure where he became a successful and prosperous businessman. In 1970 he opened a kiosk at the new Panmure 'Swimarama', and later set up the 'New Zealand Middle East Export Company' and also a waterbed business.

In 1965 Krasniqi attended an important international conference in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, as the NZMA delegate over 17 to 24 April (15 to 22 Zul Hijjah 1384), performed the Umrah and even brought back with him a 38-page document entitled the “Resolutions by General Islamic Conference; Second Session” as a souvenir. He extended his stay and made contacts with a number of Arabs and expatriate Albanians there who were keen on importing halal meat from New Zealand.

In the 1970s Krasniqi developed extensive contacts with Muslim embassies in Wellington and Canberra, and continued to attend overseas conferences and events on behalf of the New Zealand Muslim community. He was also present at the foundation stone laying ceremony for New Zealand’s first mosque on 30 March 1979. The Mosque Committee members - Mazhar Krasniqi, Hajji Abdul Rahim Rasheed, Said Alvi, Mohammed Yakub Patel and Hajji Mohammed Hussein Sahib - all mortgaged their own houses to raise the necessary cash to complete the financial commitment needed by the builder.

In a media interview in 1979, Krasniqi observed the increasing number of conversions to Islam :

"Most of them are people who have come into contact with Islam while travelling in the Middle East. We seem to be getting new members almost every week. If it goes on like this, we will soon be outnumbered by Kiwi Muslims. Seriously, though, this is one good reason why we urgently need a mosque - so we can have proper facilities for these new converts."[1]

Further construction work for the hall extension on the mosque was started in 1987 when Krasniqi was president of the NZMA.

Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand (FIANZ)[edit]

Following the foundation ceremony for the first mosque in New Zealand, Mazhar Krasniqi became the first president of the first national Muslim organisation, the Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand (FIANZ). He was elected to that post on 15 April 1979. The meeting was in fact actually held at the 17 Vermont Street property just weeks before work was to begin on building the country’s first mosque.

Late in 1980, Hajji Muhammad Ali Hrakan, General Secretary of the authoritative Muslim World League (Rabitah Al-Alam Al-Islami), granted Rayes (literally Arabic for 'commander') Mazhar Shukri Krasniqi the right to issue halal certificates to export meat and food to Saudi Arabia. Five years later, with Dr Hajji Ashraf Choudhary as president of FIANZ, and after extensive negotiations with the New Zealand Meat Producers Board, a formal contract was arranged. Krasniqi was appointed the first FIANZ North Island Halal Supervisor on 16 September 1985. His work took him regularly to Wairoa, Omahu and Morewa on the East Coast. He resigned in 1986.


During the 1992 NZMA AGM Mazhar Shukri Krasniqi was appointed Patron, Haroon Aziz Rasheed from Fiji became president, and Feroze Ali the Secretary. The following year Krasniqi left community politics, and retired from both the NZMA and FIANZ. He later attended US Congressional hearings.

However, during the 1999 Kosovo crisis, Krasniqi persuaded the New Zealand government to immediately accept 650 Albanian refugees. On 1 April 1999 the New Zealand Albanian Civic League, of which Krasniqi was president, organised a march and demonstration in central Auckland to express their support for the US-led NATO bombing of Yugoslavia.

On 31 December 2002 the Governor-General of New Zealand bestowed the Queen's Service Medal (QSM) for public service on Mazhar Krasniqi for his decades of community service to both the Balkan Muslims and wider Muslim communities on behalf of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. The investiture ceremony was held on Friday, 4 April 2003, at Government House in central Wellington.

In August 2005 FIANZ celebrated its Silver Jubilee rather modestly by issuing a commemorative booklet in which Mazhar Shukri Krasniqi presented a message of congratulations and peace, attributing all glory to Allah alone.

That same year the New Delhi, India, based Institute of Objective Studies released book entitled 100 Great Muslims of the 20th Century that identified the inaugural president of FIANZ, Mazhar Krasniqi, among them.

Notes and references[edit]


a. ^ Kosovo is the subject of a territorial dispute between the Republic of Kosovo and the Republic of Serbia. The Republic of Kosovo unilaterally declared independence on 17 February 2008, but Serbia continues to claim it as part of its own sovereign territory. The two governments began to normalise relations in 2013, as part of the Brussels Agreement. Kosovo has received formal recognition as an independent state from 111 out of 193 United Nations member states.


  1. ^ Trickett, Peter. “Minarets in Ponsonby”. New Zealand Listener (21 April 1979), pp.18.


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