Episode 1: Kareem - This Is Us

From This Is Us, 12:00 am on 1 March 2020

Series Classification: G (General Programmes)

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“I hope the Christchurch massacre is a red alarm for New Zealand society. We cannot continue if we bury everything under the carpet. Oh, everything is fine! Which is a tendency of New Zealand society.” 

Kareem Adel Ismail

Kareem says last year's Christchurch atrocity is a wake-up call to accept everything is not okay in New Zealand society.

Department of Conservation employee, Dr Kareem Adel Ismail, said mass shootings at two mosques in Christchurch last year that left 51 people dead was not surprising.

Department of Conservation employee, Dr Kareem Adel Ismail, said mass shootings at two mosques in Christchurch last year that left 51 people dead was not surprising. Photo: Supplied / Ghazaleh Golbakhsh

Department of Conservation employee, Dr Kareem Adel Ismail, said mass shootings at two mosques in Christchurch last year that left 51 people dead was not surprising and should be considered a "red alarm" for society.

"We cannot continue if we bury everything under the carpet. 'Oh, everything is fine', which is a tendency of New Zealand society," he said.

Adel Ismail left Egypt on the day of the revolution on 28 January, 2011, the day the country's then-president Hosni Mubarak announced the dismissal of his government, after months of mass protests over political repression and poverty. He started his PhD study in Auckland, one of the most difficult decisions of his life.

He has since had the opportunity to travel the length of New Zealand as part of his work with the Department of Conservation.  

"I feel really accepted in places like Northland, but in others places you feel like an outsider," he said.

His own country had been affected by the colonial occupation of Britain, part of why he felt a strong cultural affinity with tangata whenua as an Egyptian.

"I don't believe in being a minority." he said. "When you call yourself a minority you will be treated as a minority. Egypt will always be my home - its dynamic nature, its history, its warmness. But New Zealand is my home now. It's calmness, its landscape and its culture of tangata whenua."

Adel Ismail's sporting passion is tennis, which provides him with a way to connect other players from diverse backgrounds in Auckland. He runs inter-club competitions and every Saturday meets someone new, from the chief executive from Ponsonby to a teenager from Manukau.

It is a way to make friends and to be part of the wider multi-cultural community, where there is no 'them' and 'us' distinctions to be made.

But, he says society too needs to change to more fully embrace multicultural aspirations.

"What happened in Christchurch was horrific, but unfortunately not surprising. I hope the massacre is a red alarm for New Zealand society... We are all part of this community, not an addition," he said.

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Ghazaleh Golbakhsh, Director

Ghazaleh Golbakhsh, Director Photo: Photography by Sascha Stejko

Series Director Ghazaleh Golbakhsh is an Iranian-New Zealand writer, filmmaker and Fulbright scholar who has recently completed her PhD in Media and Communications. 

She has written and directed award winning short films.  Ghazaleh is currently developing her first feature screenplay and publishing her first book of personal essays.

| Twitter: @baronessghaz | Instagram: @ghazalehgol |

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