A new graduate from the Royal New Zealand Police College who received police-issued specially designed hijab as a part of the uniform says it will pave the way for more Muslim women to join New Zealand Police.

Zeena Ali, a Fiji-Indian descent New Zealander, says she was delighted to have received such a welcoming and inclusive approach by New Zealand Police who have incorporated hijab to be worn by her on duty as a part of her police uniform.

Hijab is a headscarf worn by Muslim women as a part of their dress.

To get the gear right making sure the hijab is both suitable for police work and comfortable to wear, New Zealand Police worked with Massey University’s School of Design.

Constable Zeena Ali with Police Commissioner Andrew Coster (Photo Supplied)

Now Constable Zeena Ali trialled several designs of the hijab and made recommendations for improvements before she started her police training, and further tweaks were made during the recruit course.

Speaking with The Indian Weekender, Zeena said it was time that young Muslim women living in New Zealand think about joining the force and the newly officiated hijab as a part of the uniform will encourage Muslim women to take up police work as their career choice.

Constable Zeena Ali with Police Commissioner Andrew Coster (right) and family members on police graduation day in Wellington (Photo Supplied)

Zeena was working in a customer service role at a mall in Auckland and donned the hijab earlier in 2019 as a part of her dress.

Post-March 15 Christchurch mosque attacks, Zeena contemplated joining the force as there were little to no representation of Muslim women in New Zealand Police.

Constable Zeena Ali with a friend from NZ Police (Photo Supplied)

Zeena, along with her husband, went for the Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca last year and decided to join the police once back from her trip.

On donning the newly issued hijab, Zeena says it’s time that more Muslim women think of joining the police force and bring more diversity to reflect the changing demography of New Zealand.

“Wearing a hijab on the job will encourage more Muslim women and remove barriers if any, for them to be a part of the police services,” Zeena said.

Zeena also told the Indian Weekender how during the training there a lot of inquisitiveness amongst her fellow trainees about the hijab was, its significance for a woman in Islam.

The hijab officially released and supplied by NZ Police as a part of the uniform of Muslim women (Image: New Zealand Police)

“A lot of the fellow trainees didn’t know about the hijab, and it was good to share more information about it and what it means for the person wearing it.

“There is a dearth of knowledge amongst Kiwis and the general non-Muslim community, and I think we need to create more awareness about hijab and its significance,” Zeena added.

Speaking more about her collaboration with Massey University’s School of Design pertaining to the design of the hijab, Zeena says it was easy to work with the design team from the school making adjustments to the hijab.

“Police’s focus has always been on making it [hijab] work well for me,” Zeena said.

Seventy-six new cops have completed their training and have graduated from the Royal New Zealand Police College this Thursday.

A release from NZ Police said that over 50 per cent of the graduates are female (51.3 per cent), while nearly half the wing (48.7 per cent) are of ethnicities other than NZ European – for instance, Maori makes up 25 per cent of the wing.