The former St Patrick's Primary School in Melbourne St,
South Dunedin. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
South Dunedin is about to host a secondary boarding
school for senior Muslim boys, in a former Roman Catholic
The former St Patrick's Primary School in Melbourne St has
been sold by the Dunedin Catholic Diocese to the Al-Noor
Charitable Trust, a Christchurch-based charity established to
develop Islamic educational institutions in New Zealand.
Trust chairman Mohammad Alayan said Muslim children attending
state secular schools were subjected to an educational
environment which pressured them to adopt values which were
contradictory to Islamic values, such as evolution theory,
sexual relations outside of marriage and drinking.
To alleviate this "cultural deficiency", the trust would
establish An-Nur Kiwi Academy (AKA), which would be the South
Island's first Islamic school.
Dr Alayan said the trust had intended to set up the academy
in Christchurch, but the earthquakes prompted them to
relocate the project to Dunedin.
The academy would operate as a not-for-profit school under
charitable status, and would accommodate about 100 year 11 to
year 13 boys from across the country.
Despite the academy's aim to provide a high-quality education
with an emphasis on the Islamic value system, Dr Alayan said
the New Zealand national curriculum would be taught by about
15 to 20 staff who would include qualified Islamic studies
and Arabic language teachers.
The academy could be opened as early as next year, but it
would be more realistic to expect it to open at the start of
2014, he said.
Otago Muslim Association secretary Bjorn Oscar Sollie was
both surprised and delighted by the announcement.
"I'm very, very pleased. It will be a great asset for the
Muslim community in Dunedin, as well as New Zealand."
University of Otago politics lecturer and member of the
Dunedin Muslim community Dr Najib Lafraie was also pleased
with the announcement.
"It sounds like a good idea. We value the religious aspects
of the schools. It is something important for Muslims," he
"The whole environment emphasising morality and sense of
community in the school is an important issue."
Dunedin Catholic Diocese general manager Stuart Young said
the deal was finalised on Monday, but settlement would not
occur until early next year.
Everything but the school's hall building was part of the
sale. It would be relocated to the Catholic church in
Ranfurly, he said.
Mr Young declined to say how much the trust paid for the
premises, but said it was "at the low end of the market
"It's a happy end as far as we are concerned, and we're
looking forward to seeing what the new users do with the