The new Christchurch Airport prayer room is located on the ground floor next to the domestic baggage area collection point, between international arrivals and the check in hall. The prayer room is open during the domestic terminal hours of operation, seven days a week. Signs at strategic locations guiding visitors towards the room are also in place.

“The dedication ceremony was attended by representative leaders of the Catholic, Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist communities attended and individually blessed the room. It was done in the spirit of friendship and respect, to embody why the room was built,” a spokesperson of the Christchurch Airport said.

The room has a varied selection of holy books, both in English and bi-lingual to ensure people of all faiths feel welcome, the spokesperson added.

One of those who attended the ceremony was Ibrahim Abdul Halim, one of the trustees of the Canterbury Muslim Community Trust and former vice-president of the Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand.

“Ms Sara Percy, the Duty Manager at Christchurch International Airport – who deserves a lot of credit for this – contacted us a month back with the proposal. Then we met to chalk out the details. We have kept copies of Qur’an and other Islamic literature, and prayer mats in the room. A sign indicating the direction toward Mecca is also in place,” Mr Halim said.

“While to start with, the room will be used by men and women both, in time, we are looking for separate rooms for the genders. With Christchurch becoming more and more multicultural, and the number of visitors increasing by the day, this is a much-needed initiative. And the Christchurch Airport authorities deserve a lot of credit for making this a reality, in what is probably a first in New Zealand,”Mr Halim added.