John Elliott: Deus Hair & Barber Shop in Grey Lynn

In recent years Auckland has become a proud multi-cultural city. Not well known, I suspect, is the story of Kurds who arrived here as refugees from Jordan, some fifteen years ago.

Hoshiar Palani and his wife, Arezo Khosrawi, are part of a group of about 250 Kurdish refugees who came to New Zealand in 2005. Hosh was 18, the second youngest of five boys, and Arezo was just 11, third youngest of a family of six girls and three boys. Both sets of parents live in Auckland.

Hosh learned barbering from his brother in their family shop in Sandringham. They now have three shops. Arezo is a fully trained hairdresser, who learned her trade at Cut Above in the city. She has been offered jobs at several hairdressers, but prefers to work with Hosh. She wants Ponsonby News readers to know that she is fully trained and takes walk-ins as well as booked clients.

These Kurdish families left behind terrible persecution against their people. Born in Iraq, of Iranian Kurdish families Hosh and Arezo’s families faced horrific barbarism. Witnessing daily deaths was not uncommon. They told me of a recent case of a Kurd driving harmlessly around listening to Kurdish music, who was stopped and shot dead for his choice of music.

Hosh and Arezo have thrived in New Zealand, but it has entailed lots of hard work. They spoke no English when they arrived 15 years ago. Their English is now excellent. "We had to learn fast," they told me, "for education and for business.” They are grateful for their safety and their freedom in New Zealand.

This is a charming couple. They have an eight year old daughter, and now they are getting established maybe a couple more says Arezo with a twinkle in her eye.

The lockdown was not easy. They had just bought a house on 17 January, they were determined to keep their staff, full timer William and two part-timers. They were grateful for the government wage subsidy, and through their frugality they have retained William and kept their house. "I was just painting the fence yesterday," grins Arezo. "A vegie garden is next."

They also called for the border to be kept tightly closed until it is quite safe to allow people in. "Don’t mess it up for the sake of six weeks or so," they pleaded.

These families have fitted seamlessly into New Zealand, and are a decided asset to our country. They believe in hard work, they hate racism worldwide, and they are so relieved to be away from the volatile Middle East. Their relatives are now scattered all over the world. Just before lockdown they had a visit from two uncles who live in Norway.

Of course we in Aotearoa/New Zealand have a bicultural history, but we are greatly enriched by our immigrants from many countries, and Kurds are clearly no exception to this rich multi-cultural addition.

Reasonable prices, friendly service, very little waiting, and the opportunity to meet a lovely new New Zealand couple. What else could you want just here in Grey Lynn.

Thank you Hoshiar and Arezo for what you add to our community - your business acumen and your sterling personal qualities. A pity my lack of hair means I don’t need the care and attention you could give me if I was considerably more hirsute. (John Elliott)

Deus Hair & Barber Shop, 505 Great North Road, T: 09 360 0005,