Zeena, who was born in Fiji and moved to the country as a child, was motivated to join the force after the March 2019 terror attack at two Christchurch mosques in which over 50 people died.
The attack had shook the country and the entire world. Yet, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardem made it clear the country’s secular values and diversity would not be affected by the incident.
Zeena was the first to request a hijab as part of her uniform and was invited to be a part of the process of development.
Zeena told a national daily: “I realised more Muslim women were needed in the police, to go and support people. It feels great to be able to go out and show the New Zealand Police hijab as part of my uniform. I think that seeing it, more Muslim women will want to join as well.”
A police spokesperson said the step was aimed to create an “inclusive” service reflecting the country’s “diverse community”.
Earlier in 2008, New Zealand added the turban in its uniform. Constable Jagmohan Malhi became the first officer to wear it on duty.
Hijab has been the subject of heated debates across the world. A number of European countries have banned their citizens from wearing the hijab in public.
France, which is home to Europe’s biggest Muslim population, became the first country to ban anyone from wearing a full-face veil in public in 2011. No French citizens are allowed to wear religious clothing or cover their face in public.
Face veils have been banned in the country since 2017. All citizens must show their facial features from hairline to chin, failing which they can be fined up to 150 Euros.
Since 2018, full-face veils are banned in Denmark. People breaking the law face fines up to 135 Euros, which can increase for repeat offenders.
In The Netherlands, the ban applies not just for veils and burqas but also full-face balaclavas and helmets. Offenders are fined 150 Euros.