Hemi Taka & Debbie
Hemi Taka and his wife Debbie,s journey to Islam.
Hemi Taka was cooking breakfast after a night out at an Auckland club, when the television programme Voice of Islam caught his attention.
It was 2006 and the 26-year-old roof tiler had been looking for more out of life. He'd visited churches and studied Buddhism and Hinduism but nothing felt like a good fit.
"I started watching, then a verse from the Quran came up and I thought 'what are these powerful words?'"
He began watching the show each week and studying the Koran. After two years, as his fifth child was about to be born, Taka decided to make the leap.
"I went into a local mosque but no one came up to ask if I needed help so I went home and asked God to send me a Muslim brother to help me."
Taka discovered his car mechanic was Muslim. "He was so excited and said, 'Go home, shower, I'll come and take you to the mosque'," says Taka.
The transition wasn't easy. Friends thought Taka was joking or going through a phase. "They'd call me a suicide bomber but I brushed it off. My wife used to laugh because I had to recite prayers in Arabic, she'd tease me when I was fasting."
His wife, Debbie, eventually converted and his family came to terms with the change. Giving up drinking was a big deal for a guy used to socialising. "I finally gave up drinking in my second year of being a Muslim and I've only slipped up a couple of times.
"I was so upset when I found out I couldn't eat pork but after watching a few documentaries on pork and the health issues with it, I didn't take much convincing."
Many of the Islamic rules are basic common sense, Taka reckons. He says he's a better husband, healthier and keen to spread the message about Islam. He hands out Islamic brochures at weekend markets.